How skills training can create better cities

Peter Adeyeye, Lagos Community Manager
Lagos, 1 March 2016

Lagos can be described as a microcosm of Nigeria, harbouring various cultures, faiths, orientation and the over 200 ethnic groups in the country. This diversity is predicated on the historical precedence of Lagos as the colonial seat of power and the first capital territory of Nigeria. Moreover, its geographical location along the coast with a commercial seaport opened up the city to various economic opportunities that served as a pull factor for migrants from across the country. With a current population of about 21 million, the challenges of meeting everyone’s need have led to mass poverty and unemployment across various strata.

In recognition of the critical role that empowerment programs plays in poverty alleviation and citizen’s empowerment – and in creating better cities for everyone – various actors in Lagos have been investing in vocational training and skill acquisition programs for varying segments of the society. A notable example of a project that is targeted at building the capacity of secondary school students is the Lagos Empowerment and Resource Network (LEARN), which aims to give these students the opportunity for continuous learning and mentorship. There are various programs designed to empower students that include career enlightenment programs, summer and after school lessons and skill acquisition programs that place students in Lagos state skill acquisition centres to acquire practical skills in such area as arts and crafts, catering and event decoration. The program is completely free of charge for students and only holds after school during academic session and extensively during the holiday. It sustains itself by calling on the larger community to volunteer their vocational skills and professional expertise in moulding the next generation of leaders.

The Lagos State Technical and Education Board (LASTVEB) in 2012 launched the Apprenticeship Training Program (ATP), which is a combination of two major programs: School Leaver Modern Apprenticeship Programme (SL-MATP) and Graduate Vocational Employability Skill Training Programme (GV-ESTP). The SL-MATP is an alternative route for school leavers to join the higher institution instead of the common University Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) they have to write. Admitted students are placed in any of the five technical schools within the city and have the opportunity of learning various skills. Similarly, the GV-ESTP is designed for graduates who need apprenticeship training and professional qualifications in various vocational subjects. They are normally placed in the government technical colleges, skill acquisition centers, vocational/youth centres and accredited training providers. Similarly, the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) was created in 1999 for the purpose of elevating the living standard of residents of Lagos with particular emphasis on all categories of women through economic empowerment and sustainable programs. It embarked on various empowerment programs that led to the introduction of 17 vocational skills centers across the city. WAPA also introduced other poverty reduction initiatives, such as micro-credit lending through micro-finance banks.

This series of empowerment programs have great potential for generating employment for many people within the city and thereby alleviating urban poverty. While the effort of these stakeholders are highly commendable, it is equally important for others to come on board in building capacities of other marginalized groups. Also, there is a need for follow-up with the candidates with further opportunities like seed funding, access to loan and micro-credit, equipment supply and helping them with business registration. These will reduce urban poverty and make Lagos more suitable for all.

Photo credit: Global Fund for Children

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