The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, believes Nigerias high unemployment rate can be greatly reduced if more Nigerians embrace blue collar jobs that are largely neglected.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), unemployment rate in Nigeria stood at a staggering 23.1% at the end of Q3, 2018.
When confronted with the worrying unemployment statistics during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, Ngige said more Nigerians have to be open to the idea of skills acquisition rather than just white collar jobs.
He noted that the Federal Government has an established vocational skills policy, but that Nigerians think blue collar jobs are beneath their status.
He said, “It (unemployment) was an issue and that was why we did an advocacy and told people not to look at only the white collar jobs. There are blue collar jobs. Skills. You have to train your hands. You have to do plumbing, carpentry, tailoring.
“We had to do the vocational skills policy. The NDE (National Directorate of Employment), one of my parastatals, has at least three or four vocational skills programmes.
“We have our specialist skills centres in Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna, Bauchi, Calabar, Warri, Enugu, and all over the federation.
“We now have many in collaboration with the state governments. We send them people to train them. And people come in there as apprentice and after we finish with them, we empower them.
“But the problem is that, how many people are ready to come there and train?
“They regard those jobs as jobs that don’t befit people’s status, but it’s not true. We’re counselling people that going to do these jobs doesn’t make you an inferior person.
“But here, everybody wants a (white) collar job. They want to stay in air-conditioned office. They want to work in the bank or oil companies and nothing less than that.”
The former Anambra State governor further noted that the private sector should carry most of the burden of job creation and not the Federal Government.
He said the government’s most important role is to provide an enabling environment for job creation to thrive.
“What I have to tell you is that first and foremost, job creation is not only for the government. It’s not only the government that creates all the jobs.
“As a matter of fact, most of the jobs created are supposed to be in the private sector. But you know in Nigeria, we have an obtuse arrangement here and everybody is looking for white collar jobs. You have gradations in the job sector,” he said.
The minister praised the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government for improving the nation’s economy by developing the agricultural sector.
“The government went into agriculture and started encouraging farmers,” he said.
He claimed rice farming alone has created nearly eight million farmers thanks to the government’s policies.