How We Impart Entrepreneurial Skills On Corps Members, By Coordinator | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How We Impart Entrepreneurial Skills On Corps Members, By Coordinator

Posted: Jun 18, 2015 at 6:50 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Mr. Olanipekun Alao is the Coordinator of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). In this interview with NEDUM NOBLE, he speaks on abuse of corps members by their employers, impact of skill acquisition programme on corps members, and accommodation for them in the FCT , among other issues. Excerpts:

The skill acquisition and entrepreneurial development is one of the initiatives of the NYSC that has impacted the lives of corps members. How do you monitor the programme to ensure efficiency and continuity? 

There are two components of the programme – the in-camp and the out-comp. During the in-camp, we sensitise the corps members with motivational talks on the necessity of having special skills. The second phase is the practical where the corps members are introduced to various basic skills. During the in-camp, they select the skills they would like to acquire, with the skill trainers giving them basic training. While some learn faster, it takes some longer time. A day is often set aside to display the items.

As per the monitoring system, it is more effective in-camp. We make sure every corps member registers for one skill or another. Attendance is taken at every skill training centre while the training is going on. But it is a different game as soon as they leave camp. Due to the nature of our posting which can end some of them in Abaji, Bwari, Kwali, etc, we compel them to register with the skill trainers who are located in the various parts of the territory. Whatever basic knowledge they acquired in those skills, they register on those skills with the trainers at their various councils and continue. What we have done that looks novel and a little bit interesting is that in the FCT, we have made it compulsory that every corps member must learn a skill which he can impact his colleagues with. Again, during the camp, everything is free, but when they go out to continue to attain professionalism, they pay the trainers because NYSC does not have those trainers, they are independent. However, we ensure they give them good discount as well as issue them with monthly clearance which confirms they are truly committed to the programme. It is our desire that every corps member is self reliant and one sure way of achieving this is to make the programme mandatory and pocket friendly.

How do you assist the corps members in the area of funding in view of the cost implication in setting up any business venture?

One of the ways we achieve this is to ensure that organisations that give loans like banks and their likes are invited to camp to speak to the corps members. We partner with several of them, and encourage corps members to learn how to write feasibility studies on how to access loans. Even NYSC foundation gives soft loans, soft in the sense that one only needs to get a collateral which is one’s discharge certificate. Through this means, they can access capital for various businesses they want to embark on.

Can you give us a figure of the corps members that have become self independent through this initiative?

For the past five years this programme started, for the FCT alone, those who have gone through the skills, acquired them and are managers of their own business are not less than 25.

How have you been managing the two streams of corps members in one batch, especially the accommodation challenge in various orientation camps across the country?

There is something we proud ourselves with in the FCT and that is the long range plan. We knew we are going to host a batch that will be divided into two streams and we started planning three months ahead. We know that if we are going to host two streams in one batch with about five days interval, then it takes a lot of planning.

Though we have a permanent site, but we are not unmindful of the long time it would take to finish it. So we just have to continue with this one. No doubt, the facilities here are quite challenged, hence the on-going renovation. We ensured that the system is in place that immediately the first stream leaves, the adjustment of the facilities for the next stream begins. As I speak, the facilities are wearing a new look. It is now history in FCT to see dirty toilets or filthy hostel environment. Despite some of the ageing facilities, we are able to put them in good shape for the corps members to be relatively comfortable.

You must have heard about employers of corps members that turn them to ordinary messengers. What are you doing about that?

I have never seen an employer request for the service of corps members to serve tea or buy recharge cards. We know there are persons employed to do that in various offices. If that happens, it might have been an outcome of sheer insensibility and ignorance of the great potentials that the corps member poses. For a corps member who has seen the four walls of the university and graduates, it is almost a criminal act for an employer to dare limit him or subject him or her to a tea-girl. I think such organisations are doing so at the peril of their own profitability, because every corps member is capable of enhancing the productivity and profitability of any organisation.

So it is a product of ignorance, insensitivity and inability to lead. If I get report of any organisation using corps member like that, I will definitely move against that organisation and challenge them to a con2test of reasoning.

Is there any plan for a Corpers Lodge in the FCT?

The environment in the FCT is quite unique. I recall a clarion call has been on for a lodge within the central area but there has not been any breakthrough. But don’t forget, corpers’ lodges are not supposed to be a permanent accommodation. In the guiding rules of NYSC, the corps member’s employer has the sole responsibility to accommodate them or pay them money in lieu.

The corpers’ lodge idea is that in the event of corps member being stranded, he can have a place to spend the night before proceeding. It is called transit camp. But that became an issue because employers are not living up to the expectation. And just like I said in another forum, if an employer cannot meet the minimum requirement spelt out in the posting letter, including accommodation and transportation, we will gradually begin to take decisive action against them by blacklisting them. The living standard in the FCT is so high that the corps members allowance cannot afford them. Again, I appeal to all employers (both private and government) to ensure that corps members are given accommodation. If the accwommodation problem is solved, I think more than 70 per cent of his problems are solved.

Taking care of the corps member welfare will surely bring out the best in him. A demoralised corps member cannot function well in his place of work.