Richard Ginika Izuora
Lagos State Government has expanded the net of employment opportunities for young people in the State, as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday, announced a 100 per cent increment in capital subvention to Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).
The LSEFT, is an independently run agency established to provide financial support to business owners and entrepreneurs for wealth creation and to tackle unemployment.
The Governor doubled the agency’s subvention in a move to further increase access to finance for budding entrepreneurs seeking to grow their businesses through soft loans and funding support.
Sanwo-Olu made the announcement at the second edition of Lagos Employment Summit organised by LSETF. The event with the theme: “Sustainable Job Creation Strategies: Collective Action and Prosperity for All”, is being held at Eko Hotels and Suites in Victoria Island.
Stakeholders in the employment generation community, including policymakers and implementation partners, are currently meeting at the two-day summit, which has the objective to foster conversation on sustained job creation partnership and strategies towards enhancing viable pathways and transition from education to employment.
Sanwo-Olu said the incentive would further strengthen other State Government’s interventions initiated towards empowering and upskilling innovative young people, while also providing support grants for established businesses. With the increased allocation, the Governor said more entrepreneurs would be captured in grant allocations to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), thereby lowering unemployment figures of the State.
He said: “We have seen that LSETF can work and indeed, it is working. We have seen the potential of the agency in sustaining creation of job opportunities for our teeming productive residents. I strongly believe that we can achieve a lot more in bringing down the unemployment rate in Lagos if we entrust the agency with a lot more capital grants to support businesses and innovative people.
“LSETF has the capacity and has demonstrated it in the last four years. Given the opportunity of increased funding, the agency can double the employment figures. It is only by scaling up the subvention that we can further demonstrate our readiness to reduce the rate of unemployment. I have asked for the agency’s budget size and I have seen what it is. This is a public pronouncement that we are doubling the subvention.
“We are doing this, because the LSEFT management team has given us practical proof of concept that the intervention can boost employment opportunities. In this regard, I make an appeal to our funding and development partners to also double their donations to the agency, because there are more people in the State to be taken out of poverty when they have access to business finance. This way, we would be empowering more people to create wealth and spread prosperity.”
The Governor said his administration, in the last three years, had committed over N10 billion in grant to strengthen LSEFT’s activities, supporting 34,000 MSMEs through the intervention.
The intervention, the Governor said, was instrumental to the 6.7 per cent drop in the unemployment rate, as recorded by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) before the disruption occasioned by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Sanwo-Olu said that the agency needed to rejig its activities, with the aim to extend the financial assistance to more businesses in the State, stressing that COVID-19 could no longer be used as excuse for not assisting productive people in creating wealth through entrepreneurship.
He said: “We cannot continue to give COVID-19 as an excuse, because the pandemic is behind us now. We need to think of approaches that will create opportunities for teeming number of our youths in the coming days. Young people are waiting on us and relying on us. It is one of our campaign promises that, LSEFT would come out stronger and better under our leadership. I charge the Board of Trustees and the management team to take this opportunity to push LSEFT further to become a global brand that all of us can truly be proud of.”
The Governor pledged to incorporate outcomes of the summit into the implementation of the State’s governing agenda.
Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Sam Egube, who put the unemployment rate in Lagos at 37.3 per cent, said the summit was organised with the goal to address employment levels in Lagos, by bridging the gap between job availability and employability in the labor market.
The Commissioner said the stakeholders were gathered to collaborate, design and develop initiatives that would improve and sustain employment outcomes in the State. He disclosed that the State Government would be launching a 25-year job development plan anchored on a thriving economy, human-centric city, modern infrastructure and effective governance.
“This summit is critical dialogue sessions between different stakeholders for us to evaluate and re-evaluate thoughts and initiatives targeted at better employment outcomes. It will provide avenues for various stakeholders to deliberate on relevant areas on job creation, different aspects of skill development and sustainable growth for decent employment, the connection between our training centers and the emerging job opportunities,” Egube said.
LSETF Executive Secretary, Ms. Teju Abisoye, disclosed that 45 per cent of the skilled labour force in the country was concentrated in Lagos, said participants at the summit would identify new trends and opportunities in diverse sectors and value chains that needed to be prioritised with the right investment.
Reeling out the impacts recorded by the agency in the last five years, Ms. Abisoye said LSETF, through its interventions, had created over 182,000 direct and indirect jobs in Lagos. She added that the agency had saved 50,000 direct jobs through support and business stimulation.
She said 12,335 young persons were trained in modern skills, 413 tech start-ups supported through soft financing, while 68,582 new tax payers were added into the tax net of the State.