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The Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, has appealed to the Federal and State government of Nigeria to deploy the use the Igbo apprenticeship system to address the youth unemployment in the country.
Okonkwo, who made the call in a keynote address he delivered at the 2022 edition of the All Market Conference, organised by the Ndigboamaka Progressive Traders Association in Lagos, asserted that the Igbo apprenticeship scheme has the capacity to mop up the army of unemployed youths in the country and engage them meaningfully for the betterment of the country.
According to him, the federal and state governments have the capacity to enter into agreements with traders as well as other tradesmen to provide the needed tutulege to youths and reduce unemployment.
According to him, the scheme, which had proven to be a success among the Igbo people and had helped them to create wealth, can be replicated across the country with government providing the needed guarantees for start up funds.
‘I call on governments across Nigeria to explore the benefits of the apprenticeship system practiced by the Igbo people and use it to address youth unemployment and fight criminality.
‘What it takes is a policy on the placement of willing youths in businesses that will take them through tutelage for a period of time while government empowers them with start up funds upon completion’, he added.
According to him, unemployment is today the biggest contributor to insecurity across the country adding that for government to effectively tackle the situation, it must begin to think outside the box to see other ways of addressing the problem.
Adding that Nigerian youths are attainable, the United Nigeria Airline boss, said providing guarantees for start up funds will be a much needed incentive to encourage youth participation in apprenticeship.
Okonkwo, who in 2020 instituted a research at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Business School into how to revitalise the Igbo apprenticeship scheme and reposition it to become the new model in tackling unemployment, revealed that the report of the study, which was publicly presented in October 2021, should form part of working and policy document of government on addressing unemployment in the country.
He said: ‘In October 2021, the report of the study which I instituted at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Business School into the Igbo apprenticeship scheme was presented at the university in Awka.
‘The report made far reaching recommendations s on how to reinvent the scheme and position it as the new framework for addressing unemployment in the country.
‘I therefore believe that it has now become necessary for governments across the country to obtain copies of the study from the university to see how they can tap into the recommendations to develop new policies that would help them to tackle unemployment and secure our states‘, he stated.
Okonkwo also went on to call on traders and tradesmen across the country to open new avenues of partnership with governments in order to make the scheme work.