Thirty-two graduates in leather bag production were given their certificates in Ibadan by the Nigeria Export Promotion Council after a two-week training programme.
The Punch reported that the participants, who were picked from more than 200 candidates that applied for the scheme, included lawyers, architects, designers, communications experts, accountants and others from different professions.
The scheme was organised by the NEPC in conjunction with an outfit that specialises in the production of handbags for export.
The Acting Executive Director, NEPC, Abdullahi Sidi-Aliyu, said during the event that the effort was aimed at bridging the huge skills gap that existed among Nigerian youths pf different age brackets, while also promising that the effort would be sustained in other sectors so that Nigerians could benefit from the non-oil export business.
He stated, “The NEPC is conscious of its responsibilities and we realise that the only way to abridge the skills gap is to look inward and develop the skills of our people so that they can produce goods and services that will be required in the export market. Apart from the bags, we are also intervening in the garment sector through the setting up of a human capital development centre in Lagos.
“To take advantage of the business side of this effort, we will encourage the entrepreneurs who have been trained to set up companies. If they cannot do that on their own, they are encouraged to set up cooperatives and register them with us. From there, they can enjoy the facility that we can give in term of export development.”
The NEPC Regional Coordinator in the South-West, BabatundeFaleke, gave an assurance that the council would help the beneficiaries to promote their products through online sales.
“We have the market but where is the quality products to deliver? There is a big skills gap that we are trying to bridge. Nigeria is blessed with people who have huge potential to contribute to the nation’s economy. We shall monitor the progress of these participants because they are on our platform. We will help them to do online sales and e-business,” he said.
Founder of the leather outfit that trained the beneficiaries, Mrs. Femi Olayebi, noted that she was amazed that people from diverse professions could apply to be trained in bag making, adding that it exposed the fact that despite Nigeria producing thousands of graduates every year, the skills gap had contributed immensely to unemployment in the country.
“The participants have passion for something and they were satisfied that by being part of the scheme, they can satisfy their drive for success in a different terrain. They are not yet experts but they now have a direction to create something and form a particular silhouette in their minds,” she stated.