‘Why graduates should augment degrees with vocational, business skills’

NYSC  Graduates

NYSC Graduates

It is not uncommon that more graduates are turning to vocational jobs after the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), rather than going in search for jobs. The strategy is now almost commonplace among Nigeria’s booming youth population, as at mechanic workshops, fashion shops and hair salons, those with academic degrees and diplomas are gradually displacing the hitherto unlearned trainees.

This trend is epitomised by Amarachi Agufobi, a graduate of Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; and Kehinde Oluwafemi, who holds a Higher National Diploma in Business Administration. The two young graduates recently beat other nominees from different parts of the country to clinch first and second positions (fashion designers’ category) in this year’s National Skills Competition, an event organised by the Bank of Industry (BoI).

The awardees started their journey into the fashion making industry at the Field of Skills and Dream Academy, an Ikeja-based foremost vocational training centre, last year. The Imo State-born Agufobi, who won the fashion competition with a wedding gown made with local fabric, was still undergoing the NYSC scheme, when she registered for a nine-month intensive course in fashion at FSD.

On his part, the first runner-up, Oluwafemi, had finished his national service and had a stint in cloth-making at a roadside shop. But, according to him, he joined the FSD because he needed to learn from professionals.

Their decisions have paid off in the form of cash prizes and equipment they will get from BoI to set up their fashion shops.
Speaking in an interview, Agufobi said she had no intention of seeking a paid job anymore as her new-found vocation has the potential to make fulfill her childhood dream – running a successful business.

She said: “I have always wanted to be a successful business woman. But I needed to acquire education first. With my sowing skill, I think I am close to fulfilling my dreams. I don’t have to look for a job anymore. I want start my business so that I can grow to become an employer of labour.”

On the difference the award has made in her life, the 26-year old graduate said her confidence had been boosted. She also said many clients had more confidence in what she could after the honour.

“I cannot believe that I, the same person who was making cloths in a corner of a room has received a national award in fashion designing. Apart from the prestige and the financial reward, what interests me most is that fact that successful fashion designers have accepted to mentor me. For me, this is the most valuable aspect of the honour. But above all, I appreciate the FSD who took time to train me in the art of cloth making. The award would not have come without the centre,” she said.

27-year old Oluwafemi said he had started harvesting the gains of the award less than a month when he was honoured as the first runner-up in the fashion category. According to him, his fashion label – Q&Q Stiches – has started gaining recognition since the award as he had started getting several jobs that come based on referrals.

For the Founder and Executive Director of the FSD, Mrs. Omowale Ogunrinde, who acknowledged the place of God factor in the initiative, the awards were an indication that the academy was doing something unique. She said her fulfillment came from watching Nigerians who passed through the centre grow into big entrepreneurs.

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