By Musbahu El Yakub
With increasing need for various services, the vacancies for trained manpower continued to balloon for several decades up to the 1980s. But by the late 1980s, we had begun to not only saturate the public services, but were probably over-employed. If any realistic and prudent thing is to happen to our public services over the next one decade, it should be a deliberate and systemic "rightsizing", and that is a polite way of saying downsizing except probably for the military, the police and other such services.
Yes, obviously, people will die or retire and there will be need to employ for replacements and for some marginal growth as well. But those combined vacancies are very unlikely to meet up with the rate graduates from high schools and universities are churned out from all around the country.
We have to, therefore, not only accept the reality that the public sector is never meant to be there to just employ graduates but to also gladly accept the truism that the public sector should, instead, focus on developing the enabling environment that will see to the creation and growth of businesses of all sizes in all sectors and crannies of the country.
If you ask me, successive federal governments in the past have done reasonably well in encouraging graduates to go into self-employment and business through programs with the Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry, SMEDAN, NDE, NIRSAL, etc. But the call has not been sufficiently loud and unequivocal: The government must cease creating any impressions that it can directly employ the multitudes of our youths, by honestly and clearly communicating that there are limited employment opportunities in the public sector that can come up from time to time.
Instead, the government should continue to focus on strengthening the various interventionist and enabling programmes that will facilitate the creation of employment by the youth themselves. Obviously, all the aforementioned programmes can only succeed and be sustainable if a sense and responsibility of accountability are both inculcated and enforced in our youth.
With a population of over two hundred million people and growing, there are more than sufficient local markets for many products and services. From abundant fertile land for agriculture all across the country, to solid minerals in most states of the federation; information technology, manufacturing and services, we really are literally a bottomless pit of opportunities for serious entrepreneurs. Over the coming weeks, this column would endeavour to bring out topical issues on entrepreneurship that will help our youths in understanding opportunities and how to seize them and create jobs for themselves and others.
The starting points for the success of any and every worthy endeavour in life are two: purpose and mind-set.
One of the reasons many people fail to achieve meaningful and sustainable success in business and life is because they fail to identify their life's purpose from the get-go. Even when they can boast of what might seem to be reasonable outwardly achievements, they may still lack the full internal satisfaction necessary to keep them motivated and going for the marathon this life is. Lack of purpose costs us resources such as our time, finances, efforts, relationships, etc.
In the long run, we realise that it has deprived us of true meaning in the various spheres of our lives and the contentment that comes with it.
Without a purpose or with a weak one, an individual can easily be swayed away from their otherwise noble journey. Entrepreneurship is particularly challenging.
Without a clear purpose that has deep meaning that is internalised, you risk missing your way or giving up when you hit headwinds, and there will be a lot of it in the journey!
The next most important thing after 'purpose' is your mindset.
Consciously or subconsciously, everything starts with our mind-sets. Successful entrepreneurs have an amazing perception of what they want to achieve years and even decades before it becomes reality. It is the clarity of the vision in their minds that keeps them highly motivated internally and quite relentless on the outside. And so nothing seems to be able to stop them.
In the conceptual development and production of the "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", the American Walt Disney faced an unbelievable resistance from financiers, contributors and other associates including his brother, Roy Disney. Hollywood wags referred to the project as 'Disney's Folly'. But Disney was very clear in his mind as to what he wanted to achieve. He refused to lose focus on his desired outcome. In the end, the project cost a whopping 1.5 million in 1938 US dollars. But in the first weekend of its release, Snow White brought in $8 million, representing about $134 million in current dollars!
This level of confidence is never accidental. It is a consequence of a mindset that is committed to achieving identified objectives. Ask any successful entrepreneur, they will identify with this story of vision, mind-set and resolve.
With a clear purpose and a committed mindset, the next important thing the budding entrepreneur should be aware of is what to expect in entrepreneurship.
"Entrepreneurship: What to Expect on the Journey" will be in this column next week.