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Tony O. Elumelu, MFR, Chairman of Heirs Holdings with Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the Presidential Villa in Aso Rock, Abuja.

It is imperative to enhance the skills set of Nigerian graduates and improve their chances for employment if the Nigerian economy is to grow at sustainable rates.

This was the view shared by Tony O. Elumelu, CON, at the Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS) stakeholders’ interactive session, held today at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja. The global business leader and philanthropist delivered a goodwill message at the event, an initiative borne by the Federal Government of Nigeria, which was attended by stakeholders of the initiative, including Dr. Christopher Kolade, Mr Leo Stan Ekeh, chairman of Zinox Technologies, and key government leaders. “Government is serious about tackling youth unemployment, and the GIS has had visible results,” added Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance. “85,000 graduates have registered with the program. 1,000 have been paired with host companies. We need more companies to come on-board  and the government has created fiscal incentives for those firms that retain interns,” she said. In his speech, Elumelu spoke on why the onus of employability must be a collaborative effort between the government, organized private sector and the youth. He said, “To me, this initiative is about more than creating employees; it is about turning these young men and women  into tomorrow’s employers of labour. Hard work and professionalism is key.” “Heirs Holdings will demonstrate support for this progressive initiative by engaging some of these graduates in our companies.  As the government and the private sector work hand-in-hand to create job opportunities, these young individuals must also be proactive in enhancing their professional growth and development.” The Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS) was launched in October 2012 to create opportunities for university graduates to be attached to firms, where they may work for a year and enjoy a monthly stipend of N18,000.  With the experience gained, interns will have improved their chances of employment following the programme. The core objectives of the Graduate Internship Scheme are to provide unemployed graduates with work experience and skills that enhance their employability, to address the dearth of qualified, skilled manpower required for national development, and to mitigate against the problem of graduate unemployment.

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This article was first published on 2nd May 2013

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