A decade ago Germany was the sick nation in Europe now the story has changed.’ Says Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, as she spoke on the Economic crunch that has caused unemployment rate to increase in Europe. The German experience isn't rocket science, what makes it spectacular is its result. It is the aggressive pursuit of an Employment plan that Nigeria can also learn from. A country with an unemployment rate of 5.2 %, is worthy of emulation especially by Nigeria with 23.9% unemployment rate.
Germany's employment plan comprise of two doctrines. Mrs von Der Leyen the Labour Minister gives the first strategy as she responds to the question below.
How did Germany solve her Unemployment problems?
“The problem of youth unemployment is that schools cannot equip young people with the necessary working skills. A dual vocational training system is needed to become a skilled worker. That is what has made the German economy strong” revealed Von der Leyen. This strategy is what Germany refers to as the “dual education” system, which combines apprenticeships at companies with vocational training in schools.
Secondly, the availability of capital to finance SMEs to complement the 'Dual vocation' policy. As Chancellor Merkel explained in one of her interviews, the problem of Economic inequality needed to be solved by empowering SME’s. It’s been observed that the ones with so much money are not using it while the companies who need cash badly are not getting it. This in subtle terms depicts how and why the gap between the rich and the poor widens. It cannot be over-emphasized that Small and Medium scale Enterprise is the backbone of any blossom economy.
Back to Nigeria, what is there to learn from the German experience?
1. Improving,Redirecting and Repositioning Education: The bane of unemployment is poor education whether formal or informal. The quality of education will reflect on the quality of employees and on to the quality of the management that will affect how the company sustains. Business organizations are progressing because they are meeting a need or solving problems. Any deviation from this goal may attract feedbacks like profit loss and layoffs among others.
To enhance capacity building in America and the rest of the world, the Ivy league launched The Massive Open Online Classes (MOOC) in partnership with Coursera. This project has been applauded for its role in rendering qualitative, specialized knowledge to participants across the globe via the internet. Another wonderful project complementing traditional schooling.
On our part as a developing nation, Nigeria’s educational system is decaying with every moment. The school isn’t even providing adequate theoretical knowledge to students let alone practical and pragmatic learning. The average student isn't acquainted with the latest Tech and Trends in his chosen field. Pointing out that there's little or no preparation for the labour market.
Typically, the undergraduates are more concerned either about how to break free from the ‘bondage’ of school work or savoring the pleasures of school life.
Basically, Education should solve contemporary problems not create more. In a discussion with a friend who studied Electrical Engineering, I argued about how disappointing it is to have a department as such that produces First class graduates in Universities and still live in a country without steady power supply.
Pedagogy needs to change learning models from a job seeking academic to self-reliant and entrepreneurial outputs. More over, General Studies(GST) as a course should be mandatorily tailored to groom students on how to turn and carve their niche into money making ventures.
As a matter of fact, there is a business side to everything. What men have achieved from following their talents,passion and callings is glaring for all to see.This is the season of creativity and Government should produce the enabling environment.
About a month ago or thereabouts, CNN featured a story about Michael Kors, an American Designer and his venture into the Cosmetics world. Kors was said to own a brand worth 50billion US dollars. That is how far people can go when they move in the direction of their niche venture.
In addition,The Silicon Valley and our own Computer Village have shown us as well how the world have moved away from “white collar” superiority to the ‘Grey collar’ dominance.
My only concern is that Computer Village unlike Silicon Valley is not producing enough entrepreneurs with the mind of building big corporations. CV has become more of a base for young people with a daring heart to hustle and trade to earn a living.
2. Open access of SME's to needed Capital.
It was last year or so, the news of one 8billion naira loan deal by a wealthy man to buy a Yacht hotel broke out. It took the media and its criticism to foil the deal. Then you ask yourself; 'Of what Economic value will that be to the common man on the street or the Economy?'. Imagine how many small businesses that money could start and finance? Banks are just too interested in giving out more Loans to the Affluent Rich to service their vanities. I dare any Bank in Nigeria to publish lists of how many start-ups they've granted loan. There seems to be a neglect to young businesses and government expects to solve unemployment problems? How impossible!
For the sake of emphasis, Government needs to take comprehensive education and SME fundings seriously.
Again it is not just about acquiring the skills, it should be more about grooming trainees to build sustainable businesses out of it. And Internship, empowerment and Loan support should form the nucleus of Government's Employment plan.
Let us not forget that this country's unemployment problem is severe, it is beyond what our few billionaire entrepreneurs can solve and government needs to see it that way.
*SHOWUNMI REX is a Writer, Public Speaker, Entrepreneur and Socio-political philosopher. His interests are Business and Politics.(E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; @remirex on twitter)