It takes a Minister — Labour & Employment

Posted by News Express | 17 February 2020 | 1,521 times

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I am still studying the data and evidence regarding the impeachment and subsequent trial of the President of the United States, Donald John Trump and the inclusion of Nigeria on the list of countries affected by the recent US visa restrictions, to share my thoughts. This is given very significant global transitions such as Brexit and the coronavirus outbreak among others. There are and would be implications for Nigeria as it faces multiple challenges.

Our policymakers and politicians should be keenly interested in scenarios in our national strategy response. This requires ongoing analysis to enable us to act to reduce the negative and enhance the positive impact. Until I have a much clearer understanding of these ongoing dynamics, I will continue this week to develop the series, "it takes a minister", looking at the federal ministry of labour and employment.

My understanding of the mandate of the ministry of labour and employment is about providing leadership and policymaking on labour relations and job creation. This is a massive and important portfolio. One that directly affects ordinary Nigerians and the economy. It is about how the economy is doing:

Is the economy creating enough decent tax-paying jobs relative to our population distribution?

What about working conditions?

What about the pool of talents and workplace-based skills for co-production as the economy evolves?

What labour market data exist and what is it telling us about the economy?

What value and supply chains are impacting labour markets and how can we modify them to enhance positive impact?

What do global trends mean for our labour market?

The above are some of the questions that the ministers of labour and employment should be considering if they would be up to the challenge and responsibility of facilitating the creation of millions of decent tax-paying jobs for especially young Nigerians in their prime. If the approach of ministers is rigorous and data-driven, there is an opportunity to provide leadership to expand labour and employment opportunities working with other institutional partners, the private, social sector and development sector.

At the current level of unemployment in Nigeria, the ministers of labour and employment must increasingly consider job creation as a national emergency, because;

First, it is a human rights issue.

Second, (and related to human rights), is that our economy makes no sense if Nigerians cannot find opportunities to participate and contribute their talents and skills to the labour market in the co-production of goods and services that results in inclusive economic growth. This can be a source of frustration, exclusion and anger. The ministers of labour and employment should lead the charge in ensuring that both fiscal and monetary policies align towards the creation of decent tax-paying jobs. The kind of jobs that [actually] produce something that meets the needs of millions of Nigerians. The kind of jobs that pays enough wages to enable Nigeria families to afford the goods and services that they need to support a decent living standard. The kind of wages that can increase demand for goods and services that are made in Nigeria so that our workers can increase local output and create more opportunities for jobs and expand our economy. The kind of jobs that we can account for contributions to income tax, pensions and other pools that our economy and democracy needs.

Third, the current high levels of unemployment in Nigeria is a national security threat in all its dimensions and ramifications.

When the ministers of labour and employment consider their roles in its broadest and consequential dimensions, their approach would be more strategic to our interconnected political, social and economic ecosystem(s) to define and determine in ways that are more transformative.

When the approach of the ministers of labour and employment is strategic, their attitude would be diagnostic and systematic. So, each day at the ministry, teams would be brainstorming on what? why? and how? For example:

WHAT are the bottlenecks to creating jobs?

WHY do bottlenecks to creating jobs exist?

HOW can the bottlenecks be resolved to achieve political social and economic gains from creating millions of decent tax-paying?

The right answers to the above questions [and many more] would help ministers to connect the dots as they lead in removing constraints in our economy and facilitating the creation of millions of decent tax-paying jobs that Nigerians and our economy need. This is how ministers can effectively intervene in the labour market.

Below are some actions that the ministers and ministry of labour and employment can take to reorganise and reposition our labour markets to best serve our economy and Nigerians:

With the support and guidance of the President, liaise with the National Assembly and work across government to define a given (at this time) living standard for the average Nigerian (as indicative) [required for measurement] and to utilise evidence from data to reform our labour and employment laws, aligned with national social and economic ambition.

Work with academics in Nigeria and other partners on labour market intelligence.

Work with particularly (include others such as states as indicated) the ministry of finance, trade and investment, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the private sector to host regular jobs and small business events/fairs in all the states of the country.

Partner with institutional and other stakeholders to host a central online portal for all public sector (and partners) job vacancies using a consolidated database. This would be a source for reliable, valid and up-to-date data for industry and academic work to benefit the economy and political debates. It would also facilitate a merit-based labour and employment market system that is fundamental to high performance and increased productivity.

I hope that this short article is thought-provoking enough to inspire us to ask questions and that ministers can take a more strategic view about the issues that affect Nigerians day-to-day. We need to create decent tax-paying jobs quickly and millions of it for Nigerians.



Source: News Express

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