The Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) Skill Acquisition Academy has matriculated a new set of 160 students for its six-month intensive vocational skill training programme geared towards transforming the teeming unemployed youths in the state into entrepreneurs and employers of labour.
This is coming nearly two months after the commission graduated a total of 156 students who completed their six-month programme in various vocations, including Welding & Fabrication, Tiling, Interlocking bricks and POP; Organic Skincare Production; fashion design, shoe making and repairs; ICT, Boat and Ship repairs; HSE, among others.
The event which took place at the PTI Conference Centre, Effurun, Delta State on Thursday October 21, was attended by the Visitor to the Academy and Governor of the State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa; the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori; traditional rulers, top officials of the commission and other stakeholders.
In his address, Okowa, who was represented by a royal father, HRM Luke Kanama VIII, Pere of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom, commended the commission for its interventionist role in assisting in the development of the state, adding that the skill acquisition programme of the agency, among others, justified its existence.
The governor advised the “beneficiaries of the programme to take the training seriously”, adding that “Your success after the programme will encourage the commission to give you more support.”
Also addressing the matriculating students, Oborevwori reminded them that it was just sheer privilege for them to be beneficiaries of the programme, adding that they couldn’t have been the best if they were to undergo a rigorous test for qualification.
The Speaker who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Ebenezer Okorodudu, therefore urged them to make the best use of the opportunity to better their future.
“You students are a set of privileged people in the society because if you were to go through an election, most of you would not have got to this position. So, you are privileged citizens of Delta State.
“You are here to acquire skills for you to be useful to yourself, to your families and contribute to the development of the State. It is expected that you will dedicate yourself to this study so that you can contribute to the development of the State,” he said.
In his address, the Managing Director of DESOPADEC, Mr. Askia Ogieh, reiterated the commission’s purpose of setting up the Academy, stressing that it was a unique platform created to impart requisite skills on the youths and equip them to become entrepreneurs and, indeed, employers of labour rather than job seekers.
He stated that the commission initiated the skill acquisition programme early this year based on the inspiration which it derived from Governor Okowa’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for the youths to acquire important skills.
He said: “I am proud that what we initiated on January 27, 2021 when the DESOPADEC Skills Academy came on stream is part of the success story. Inspired by Governor Okowa’s commitment to enabling youths to acquire important skills to become entrepreneurs and employers of labour, the DESOPADEC Academy is the new platform we have created to impact requisite skills on the youth and equip them with the capacity to venture into the exciting world of entrepreneurship. This is because we believe that skills acquisition is the key to building an assured future for the youth.
“The training equipped them with entrepreneurial skills in diverse courses and professions. They include Catering and Confectioneries; Electrical Repairs and Solar Energy Works; Fashion Design and Tailoring; Hairdressing and Makeover; Shoe and Bag Making; Tiling, Interlocking and POP; Welding and Fabrications; Information Communication Technology; Organic Skincare Production; Boat and Ship Repair. Afterwards, the successful graduates were equipped materially, financially and with promotional support to become successful business men and women.”
He further stressed the commission’s resolve to expand the programme in the future to accommodate unemployed university graduates and create a paradigm shift in the fortunes of the younger generation.
“The task of tackling unemployment among the youth is surmountable. We believe that with the even higher number of graduates from our universities in the coming years, the DESOPADEC Skills Academy will continue to evolve innovative strategies to create new vistas of opportunities for our youth.”
Ogieh urged the matriculants to take their studies seriously, stressing that the training has a life-changing possibilities. He warned against violating the rules and regulations guiding the programme, even as he assured them that successful ones among them will be awarded Trade Test Certificates, Institute of Safety Professionals certificate and DESOPADEC Skills Academy Certificate of Competence.
“ I urge you to take this opportunity serious. You are involved in an exercise that has life-changing possibilities. I assure you that at the end of the training, you will be given maximum support through the provision of all the tools – machineries, equipment, financial and mentoring – to become successful entrepreneurs in your chosen skill.
“Let me at this point warn and advise you to take the training seriously as we have rules and regulations that we adhere to strictly. The practical training will not only be rigorous, you will also be subjected to theoretical examinations after which the successful among you will be awarded the Federal Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity Trade Test Certificate 2 and 3; Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria certificate; and DESOPADEC Skills Academy Certificate of Competence”, he said.
Fielding questions from newsmen on the sideline, the Executive Director for Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr. Shedrack Agidiga, charged the trainees to make the best use of the opportunity offered them by the commission, noting that “they have their destinies in their hands and whatever they do with it that’s what their lives will turn out to be.”
He stated that the first set of students which were graduated by the Academy have already settled in their different vocational skills, adding that they were doing very well.
“We have the Monitoring and Evaluation process which we have kick-started. What we do is to monitor their progress. Some of the last graduated sets have started their own businesses already and they are doing well. We are following them up.
“One of the decisions we have taken as a management is that some of them who are doing very well, we will encourage them by way of support. So, we are very sure of the persons we graduated,” he said.
The ED Planning, Research and Statistics expressed joy that the Commission had succeeded in institutionalizing the Training Academy, adding that it will outlive any subsequent board of the Commission.
He added: “One major thing we have done that will made a difference in this case, is that we have institutionalized this programme. It will outlive this board. So, if it is not your turn now, just be hopeful.”
The DESOPADEC Skill Acquisition Academy graduated a batch of 156 trainees a few months ago. They were equipped with starter packs comprising of relevant tools for them to start off, including cash to rent shops and other logistics.
Those who performed exceptionally during the six months training were given cash awards ranging from N200,000 to N1 million aside the starter packs.