Naomi Lucas
Naomi Lucas

I can count the number of times in recent years that I have attended events and the subjects Youths + education + future + internship + capacity building have been mentioned in the same breathe, and extensively discussed to boot.

Such was the atmosphere on Tuesday (21 July) at the unveiling of GraduatePro‘s bold audio-book project–#IAGNW (I’m A Graduate Now What?).

“It started as a crazy thought one morning,” says GraduatePro’s founder and project initiator Naomi Lucas during her presentation to a roomful of guests.

According to her, the book-in-the-making (the recording sessions will begin immediately) is to be narrated by 50+ exemplary individuals from various sectors of the Nigerian economy, leaders of thought in their respective fields. When done, it will be a much useful companion/guide/resource for the Nigerian youth, fresh out of school and lumped into the crowded stream of the unemployed.

“What we are doing is tapping into the power of the audio-visual medium, young people’s attention to creative industries and the current pervasiveness of the internet and mobile technology to help reduce unemployment to its barest minimum.”

Asides Lucas, speaker after speaker at the unveiling speaks about the current unemployment crises, likewise pointing out the state of unpreparedness of the typical Nigerian graduate for employment in today’s very competitive world of job hunting.

“I still see CVs that look like paper you could use to sell Akara (bean-cakes),” says Maureen Iyasele, who founded JobMag Centre to build capacity in the Nigerian youth and the SMEs that they work in. “You could easily tell that they’ve had it hurriedly done at a business centre around the corner, using one of the most common templates. They don’t realise that their CVs are them.”

Motivational speaker and CEO of Lucere Ltd. Dr Yemi Amusan blames these shortcomings on the “antiquated curriculum” still in force in many institutions to date. To solve this problem, he says Nigeria’s policy makers will have to urgently introduce more empowerment and entrepreneurial studies and encourage investments in innovation, among other action points.

“There are too many texts skills and not enough life skills being thought,” Amusan says, reeling out mind blowing statistics of poverty, population and all. “Today’s youths have little understanding of the reality that they’re competing in a highly competitive global market and that soft skills determine whether or not you get (or retain) a job.”

Audu Maikori
Audu Maikori

Audu Maikori, Chairman of the Chocolate City group believes internship/ apprenticeship is key for any youth seeking a job and looking forward to a brighter future. “It is one of the most important tools for capacity building,” he says.

While it has been launched in Nigeria, the IAGNW (dubbed ‘Africa’s Biggest Book Project’) focus is actually pan-African, and plans are already afoot to replicate the project in a few other countries in Africa (Kenya, The Gambia and Ethiopia, among them).

And one of GraduatePro’s many objectives is “to generate funding to implement boot-camps across the continent”. As Lucas brilliantly puts it: “Education is not people sitting in a classroom in front of a blackboard or chalkboard. Education has gone beyond that–education can happen anywhere. What we need to do is understand how people in various cultures learn and plug into that.” By Pelu Awofeso

Naomi Lucas and some members of Team 'GraduatePro'
Naomi Lucas and some members of Team ‘GraduatePro’