By Onuwa Lucky Joseph
Back in the day, vacation jobs were all the rage. Most students looked forward to the holidays when they could, for a very short period, be pretend adults in some organisation. Of course, not everyone got the opportunity for a job, but it was a good way of gently seguing youngsters into the workforce. It is the way it’s done in most other parts of the world. Kids don’t just jump from school to the employment line. They do so with some experience under their belt.
Things have changed; changed so badly that even youth corps members sometimes can’t get placement in the corporate organisations they are posted to for their primary assignment. So it always comes as a surprise when the private sector calls our young people unemployable. How will they be employable without any record of previous exposure to any kind of corporate culture?
Good thing that some young folks in Abuja, having seen the gap, are taking the bull by the horn and pushing for internships to be a corporate norm in Nigeria. Zainab Haruna and Hadiza Abdulmalik, founders of Decipher Solutions have quite a sound, growing practice that “in co-operation with the public sector, private sector and NGOs, works to improve access to quality in education for teenagers and youths”. Decipher also touts itself as supporting “small businesses with requisite knowledge and resources to support sustainability”.
One of their many initiatives, Junior Interns Nigeria, had an inauspicious beginning last year. They were able to place three youngsters with corporate organisations which Oluwadara Falade, Decipher Program Manager insists were those with a definable corporate culture. Decipher is not looking to place in random shops or sole proprietorships that are run entirely on the whimsical fancies of the owner. Rather, they want a formal setting, with a deeply ingrained corporate culture where interns can learn and run with the best practices acquired therefrom.
In this second year of the initiative, Decipher is looking to place at least 50 students (SS1 to Undergraduate level) ‘in Abuja only’, they say. But that’s for now. Over time, they hope to widen the net and place willing students with willing organisations nationwide. Decipher is requesting that corporate organisations indicate their interest by applying for interns – SS students for one-month periods and Undergraduates for longer. Visit their website at www.deciphersolutions.org for more information.
The hope is that this will be a sustainable process, with students doing repeat internships and getting steeped in the corporate culture ready for when their real working days begin. Here’s calling on corporate organisations in the Abuja area to see this as a responsibility thing. You owe it to the new generation to groom them for things greater than anything you achieved. That is generational. That is sustainable. Lend them now your broad shoulders to stand on….