By Grace Alegba
Mr Adesegun Banjoko, President, National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria (NABMON), has appealed to Lagos State Government to engage artisans from its Master Craftsman Project in state owed projects.
Banjoko told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday that the Master Craftsman Project, started by the state government in 2011, had great potential for mass youth employment.
He said engaging graduates of the scheme would also boost confidence of youths to join the middle level construction sector as artisans.
According to him, this will help bridge the skills gap in the sector and resolve the dearth of artisans which was making Nigerians to patronise neighbouring African countries for skilled workforce.
Banjoko said during the colonial era, artisans used in any project were usually employed or engaged periodically for maintenance of those infrastructure.
But nowadays, contractors use and totally dump artisans, causing a gap, he said.
He appealed to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to revisit recommendations of a joint committee set up to fashion out ways of engaging the Master Craftsman artisans in state owed projects to help Nigerian youths embrace the career path.
He said the training created opportunity for artisans and workers in the construction industry to receive certificates after acquiring 21st century skills.
“I appeal to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to revisit the issue of the Master Craftsman programme and ensure those trained under the scheme are registered with government contractors.
“And it should be mandatory that whoever gets job to build for government must recruit from that data pool,” he said.
He said the programme had produced hundreds of plumbers, tillers, block makers, electricians and artisans from various other crafts, hence the need to give the graduates an enabling environment to showcase the advanced skills.
“Those contractors going to other African countries to look for artisans cannot sleep when unemployed youths revolt.
“Go to mechanic workshops today, they cannot find apprentices and it is the same with all other skills.
“Any hard labour, no apprentice! Carpenters, bricklayers are all looking for apprentices.
“The already aging artisans usually call themselves together to do the hard jobs because the youths see our long struggle with little returns,” he said.
The NABMON apex man also said government should make skills acquisition attractive to the educated elites.
He said he had his first degree in Sociology, second in Banking and Finance but took to block making after spending some time in white collar jobs.
He said education would enhance middle level manpower and technical skills, stressing the need to establish more technical institutions in the nation.
He said more people in Nigeria preferred to go to universities because of the prestige and the HND/BSc dichotomy, hence the need for more technical institutions.
He said technical education would also help Nigeria to quickly catch up with the rest of the world technologically and enable government to seize the opportunity to raise skilled workforce. (NAN)