Every initiative fares better from counting its achievements with its goals. This serves as a measure to encourage its cause and rate its performance and impact. SKYE has a special focus on engendering the implementation of policies that are favourable to quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Dual Vocation Training (DVT) in Nigeria. However, while we focus on this very sensitive mission behind closed doors, SKYE equips individuals with the skills and knowledge required for a sustainable turnaround in their economic and financial situations. The programme is known to work with like-minded partners in its focal states to support their work on skills training, job counselling, and providing continuous mentoring and support to individuals as a way of tackling the rate of unemployment and underemployment in Nigeria.
Fostering partnerships like this, ensure training patterns and capacities built are sustained beyond the lifespan of the SKYE programme in Nigeria. One reason SKYE partners with local organisations is to build their capacity and ensure local ownership of processes, structures and strategies gearing towards sustainability. Considering these, in December 2019, SKYE went into a grant subsidy partnership with ETIWA Tech, a non-profit vocational training centre in Lagos to implement technical skills to selected beneficiaries in the state. ETIWA tech is the non-profit arm of the VACC Technical Limited, a building service contracting company that operates in West Africa as a mechanical and electrical contractor.
The SKYE-ETIWA Tech partnership targets 205 beneficiaries in four training batches over the course of 18 months. With the three-pronged objective of reintegrate returnees, discourage illegal migration, and encourage the voluntary return of illegal migrants, this partnership will build the skill set of returnees in selected trades and enhance their economic independence by facilitating job placement or supporting them to be self-employed.
The first training batch of 60 people was held between the 20th of January to the 28th of February 2020 for six and twelve weeks depending on the trade. Because Edo and Lagos States rank among the highest states with problems of irregular migration in Nigeria, beneficiaries were selected from both states. To ascertain trainees had the basic skill set and attitude required for the training and can fit into their chosen career trade, the selection was done through a basic paper test by the accrediting partner who is a foremost champion for DVT in Nigeria, The German Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria (AHK). After the test, identified trainees were interviewed by a team of representatives from SKYE and ETIWA tech.
Throughout the training, selected trainees were provided with accommodation and daily allowance. With expert trainers and up to date, standard equipment, beneficiaries received theoretical and practical lessons in chosen trade of Masonry, Domestic Solar Electrical Installation, Solar PV installation, and AC Installation and servicing. Beneficiaries also participated in career counselling sessions to set everyone on the right career trajectory. They also took part in soft skill training to enable them to fit into the corporate world, entrepreneurial skills training to support them towards the start and sustaining of profitable businesses, and emotional intelligence training to help them set winning mindsets and correct attitudes to work.
The success of the SKYE-ETIWA Tech training intervention is observed in the performance of participants of the first batch of the initiative. Out of the 60 enrolled participants, 46 trainees (76%) completed the training and received a nationally recognized TVET training certificate and individual starter kits. 41 of the 46 trainees who graduated from the training are currently self-employed working and making a living from the acquired skills and using the starter kits received. Four beneficiaries are in paid employment with notable companies, while one is a freelance contractor.
The second batch of training commenced on the 1st of March 2021 and is set to run through to the end of April 2021. In this batch of 50 beneficiaries, 11 of them are female interested in the Masonry skills trade – a trade generally deemed male-dominated. This is a testament to the impact of the gender inclusion sensitisation efforts of SKYE. The project’s objective on gender inclusion is that women and girls make up at least 30 per cent of participants in all activities focused directly on the target groups. This is important, especially in the construction sectors.
During the graduation ceremony of the first batch of the SKYE-ETIWA Tech intervention which took place at the ETIWA facility in Lagos State, a beneficiary and returnee from Libya Chizoba kenechukwu, said he enrolled in the training not entirely sure what to expect. He was trained in AC installation and maintenance. After the training, he benefited from the referral systems set up by the training centre that links beneficiaries with contracting companies and individuals. Since then, Chizoba has worked on three significant contracts with the companies he was linked with through the referral system. Currently, Chizoba has a small thriving business that employs two persons on a contract basis. To secure contracts and be part of the employment group that contribute to the country’s tax system, Chizoba took advantage of the entrepreneurship skills training to establish a company registered with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission.