Bayelsa State Government has indicated its readiness to partner Gregory University, Uturu in Abia State on vocational training programme to create a critical mass of middle-class and higher manpower to drive the local economy.
Governor Douye Diri gave the indication while speaking as Special Guest of Honour at the Certification Ceremony of the Smart House A to Z Vocational Training Programme at the AfricanTide Academy, Kpansia in Yenagoa.
Represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Governor said his administration is making deliberate efforts at giving hands-on skills training to the youths because its belief in the indispensability of the human capital.
He charged the graduands who trained in Quartia, Sting, Plumbing among other vocations, not to rest on their oars but be passionate about acquiring more knowledge in their various fields to further improve themselves.
While promising them starter-packs, Governor Diri cautioned them to resist the temptation of selling off their work tools, but rather use them judiciously to generate income for themselves and become employers of labour.
The Bayelsa helmsman, who commended the German Partners, the ATTEC Academy and Gregory University for their contributions towards producing the first set of graduands of the programme, promised to take the partnership a notch higher.
His words: “To Gregory University, you have the blessing of the Governor of our state. So you have to liaise with our partners, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education to see how we can encourage those of them who are willing to go further to move on.
“And to all the graduates, who are receiving certification today, you should know that the skill you have acquired is your seed. If you eat your seed by not putting your skills into work, you will certainly go back to where you were before.
“And if you manage to work for somebody, you remain a labourer. But when you work for yourself, you become a business owner or an entrepreneur. And so, I encourage you to use your seed well by planting it. Don’t sell or eat your seed.”
Delivering the convocation charge, the Vice Chancellor of Gregory University Uturu, Prof. Augustine Uwakwe, urged the graduands to effectively demonstrate the expertise they have acquired, and be good ambassadors of Bayelsa and all the institutions that played a role in their training.
He thanked the state government for keeping faith with the programme and promised that Gregory University would create an enabling opportunity for beneficiaries to study further to obtain a degree in their chosen fields through the University’s Diploma Conversion Programme.
Speaking as Chairman of the occasion, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Chief Collins Cocodia, expressed delight that the programme which he initiated under Chief Henry Seriake Dickson’s Restoration Government had seen the graduation of 186 trainees.
According to Chief Cocodia, the programme is modelled after Germany’s vocational training system which lays emphasis on practical work experience, stressing that its beneficiaries can work in any part of the world.
In their separate remarks, the Commissioner for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Mr Stanley Braboke and his education counterpart, Dr Gentle Emelah, also expressed gratitude to the Governor Douye Diri-led administration for not abandoning the programme.
They noted that Smart House programme was one of the several vocational training schemes of the present administration aimed at promoting self reliance and wealth creation, adding that over 3000 youths have benefited from the schemes so far.
Earlier, the Executive Chairman of AfricanTide Association Nigeria, Professor Jason Osai and the Founder of AfricanTide, Dr RosaLyn Dressman, equally acknowledged that Governor Diri’s intervention and support actually brought relief and a renewed sense of purpose to the programme.
They vouched for the capacity and proficiency of the graduands but appealed to the government to provide the beneficiaries with starter-packs to enable them start shop as entrepreneurs and employers of labour.
Prof Osai said, “We are confident that we have prepared our products (trainees) for the international labour market. The presence of our technical partners from Germany testifies to that. The National Board for Technical Education will also endorse this certification by giving diploma to some of our trainees.”
Highpoint of the ceremony was the presentation of certificates by the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, to the beneficiaries of the training.