I Am Glad People Are Realising This Particular Fact. Details Below. Culled From Punch. the need to diversify the economy and the importance of employable skills for graduates. IFE ADEDAPO was there What are the implications of the falling oil prices and the devaluation of naira on the Nigerian economy? The implications are quite severe because we leverage everything we do on crude oil and this means that we need to start diversifying. Nigeria is blessed because we have the largest gas reserves in Africa. While we are not utilising the natural gas and other mineral resources we have, we are focusing on oil. The question we should be asking is: What is the government doing? They should have seen this coming because America has decided that it will not buy oil from Nigeria anymore. Nigeria is the largest producer of oil in Africa, followed by Angola. Now Ghana has suddenly discovered oil and Kenya as well; the truth is after a while, the oil will no longer be needed by everybody, but what are we doing as a country to make sure that we still have the power that we want? I have to credit the government, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Akinwunmi Adesina, because he is doing a lot on farming, but, in the first place, we shouldn’t be where we are. I remember when I was growing up, we depended on agriculture. The implication for me is that we need to focus on other areas, other mineral resources we have as a country. We need to become an export dependent country, not an import dependent one. The high rate of importation is really affecting us because its cost is based on oil prices. With several initiatives being implemented in the agricultural sector, do you see agriculture replacing oil and gas as the revenue base of the country? If we ask students and young graduates to build their careers on agriculture, most of them will refuse. As a country we should start marketing other avenues of employment, not just the corporate world. If we bring farmers association to the employability summit, none of the graduates would show interest. We forget that one of our ex-presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo, was a farmer. I think revenue from agriculture can replace revenue from oil and that agriculture can be a major source of employment for us as a nation. It is the brand awareness and the understanding of its benefits that matters. Is additional professional qualification capable of tackling unemployment in the country? Yes, because during the global economy downturn, which was caused by different individuals, one of the things discovered was that if those involved were monitored by a professional organisation, they would have caught up in time. Because employers want to be ethical in their dealings, these days they have more confidence in their employees when they see that employees have professional certification. This assures the employer that the employee belongs to a group and would have to satisfy some ethical rules. What is the assurance of getting a job after the employability summit? In life there are no certainties because some people will get (jobs) while others won’t. Employability is not about people sitting in front of employers. It is about being able to pass an interview successfully. It is about being able to write good Curriculum Vitae. People enter into the universities without knowing what to do. When it is time to get a job, they just write CVs and pass it around whether it is relevant or not. We are trying to educate people on these things. For us, employability is about the total package. Do these people have technical skills and interview skills? Do they dress the part? Because it is a complete package that the employer wants to see. Our Corporate Social Responsibility is to try and ensure that we push people forward so they can be at their best when going for interviews. What major challenges did you encounter in convening the employability summit? The main challenge we have in Nigeria is accessibility. Every time we decide to convene this summit in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja, people request it be done in other states like Kano or Kaduna. However, we really cannot go everywhere. All the ones we have been doing are fully sponsored by ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and we are not getting enough support in terms of finances. We had to do this one because of the festive season that is approaching, when people may not be free to attend. We also didn’t want to do anything during elections because it may be risky to put a lot of young people in a hall. Secondly, I would say the uncertainty that affects us in this country is another challenge. We have to be very conscious about where we go because we don’t know where the powers that be can raid at any point in time. Did you envisage any apathy on the part of students to the summit? What we see is an increase in the number of students that attend. When we were in Port Harcourt for the summit, we decided that the venue we used might be a little bit small for us. For instance, these are not only the number of employers we want to come, but we cannot fit everybody in here. How will you rate the level of awareness that ACCA in the country has a global certification for the accounting profession? I think our brand awareness is improving. Before now, we didn’t do adverts; we suddenly decided to start placing adverts. Like everything in life, there is a time and for us, it is about sustainability. It is not about doing two adverts today then we won’t be able to place adverts for the next six months. We will continue to advertise our brand and make sure that people are aware of the fact that we exist. We found out that year-in year-out, there are increasing numbers of employers that want to attend our summit. Sometimes, we have employers who have large numbers of ACCA staff and we conduct continuous professional development for them and do mentoring sessions. Can people without educational background in finance be certified by ACCA? Anybody is allowed to do ACCA that is why we are presenting the opportunity and making it accessible. Even somebody doing A-levels can do ACCA. It will require that the person starts from a different level as compared with a graduate. For us, it is not compulsory to have a degree, because we believe that everybody can learn. It is good to have a degree or a formal qualification. Most times, people don’t use what they learnt on the job every day. As matter of fact in the country, we find out that we have engineers, doctors and lawyers actually doing well in the course. Basically, the summit is ACCA’s attempt to reduce unemployment and we know that it is really high. We know that year-in year out, about 10, 000 graduates are churned out from schools. They all want to come out and get employment. ACCA values are accountability and opportunity innovation and diversity. We decided that we would bring all our stakeholders together to give this university graduates and opportunity to meet with employers because we find out the ordinarily these graduates never get to meet with the employers but this way, we can bridge the gap without having to pay for recruitment agency fees.