The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment believes there is the need to strengthen the country’s employment policy to tackle the challenges of mass unemployment, an official said on Wednesday.

The Director of Employment and Wages Department of the Ministry, Mr. John Nyamali, made this submission at a two-day Employment Conference in Abeokuta.

The conference had the theme: “Addressing Employment and Job Creation in Ogun State: Tapping into Global and Local Opportunities.”

It was organised by the Ogun State government in collaboration with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Nyamali said the conference’s timeline underscores the urgency with which stakeholders must act to channel the efforts of youths in Ogun into productive ventures to contribute to the state’s development.

“The review of the National Employment Policy was borne out of the need to add strategies to further stimulate employment-intensive growth and raise the labour absorption capacity of the Nigerian economy,” he said.

The Director said the reviewed policy was a veritable instrument in addressing the disparity between economic growth and low capacity within the economy and creating decent and sustainable employment.

“In avoiding pitfalls of past approaches, this administration is guided by the need to start on a sound footing by providing stakeholders with a framework that will guide all seeking to address the problem of employment.

“Government has come to the realisation that if millions of productive jobs are to be created to meet the challenges of mass unemployment, the internal robustness of employment policy must necessarily be strengthened.

“This is so because even if the policy environment is conducive, it cannot turn an outdated employment policy into an effective job-creation process.

“The employment trend in Nigeria indicates that, without a concerted effort to holistically tackle the problems of unemployment and under-employment from a policy perspective, the situation will get worse,” he said.

Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, in his speech, expressed concern at the alarming rate of unemployment and under-employment in the country.

Abiodun, who was represented by his deputy, Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele, said youth unemployment has continued to pose weighty threats to the well-being of the society.

He said this was because the youth population comprises a substantial portion of the nation, noting, “It is a wake-up call for all gathered here today to consider the root causes of unemployment, develop actionable steps, make recommendations, and put up strategies to reduce unemployment in our dear state to the barest minimum, both on a short- and long-term basis.”

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In his remarks, the Team Leader, Skills Development for Youth Employment of GIZ, Dr Detlef Barth, noted that the conference was held at a crucial time.

He said this was in view of current realities of employment and job creation in Ogun.

“The objectives of the conference include fostering a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of employment and job-creation in the global context and current realities in Ogun.

“The conference has also sought to explore actionable recommendations to leverage as entry points towards sustainable job-creation in the state,” Barth said.

He further said the conference would create a sense of urgency for the setting up of an Employment Council to provide strategic oversight and coordinate multi-stakeholder collaborative initiatives.

“Throughout this conference, we will explore a wide range of topics through a mixed-method approach, including expert presentations, panel discussions, interactive sessions, and informal networking opportunities.

“We have also incorporated virtual elements to support hybrid formats, ensuring that everyone can participate, regardless of their location,” Barth said.

In his remarks, Dr. Olu Aikulola, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, lamented that unemployment was assuming a “frightening” dimension globally.

“In view of this, Nigeria must pay attention and act responsibly.”

Aikulola, who is chairman of the conference’s Local Organising Committee (LOC), added that governments at all levels should devise pragmatic policies in conjunction with the sector.

“This is in order to mobilise investment and create jobs.”

He urged informal youth groups, undergraduates, and upcoming entrepreneurs at the conference to see it as an opportunity to key into new innovations for tackling unemployment in the country.

Aikulola stressed the need to create a business-friendly environment for small businesses to thrive and attract investors, and also initiate programmes, which would generate job opportunities.