The National Open University (NOUN) on Wednesday launched a new academic programme to equip fresh and unemployed graduates with contemporary skills required in the workplace.

“This programme is aimed at bridging the gap between what the labour market requires and what job seekers have to offer.

“We want to equip our youths with soft employability skills that cuts across all disciplines,” Prof. Grace Jokthan, Director CHRD, said at the event.

She said the soft skills, such as leadership, negotiation and communication skills, help to create a seamless work environment.

“Employers of labour no longer employ based on certificates, but what the candidate has to offer, which is the soft skills,’’ Jokthan said.

In his address, the Chairman of the NYCC, Mr Peter Anyim, advised youths to take advantage of the programme.

He said it would help in their journey to self-discovery.

“The training will run for three weeks and successful participants will proceed for three months internship programme, after which they will be given National Employability Proficiency Certificate.

“The programme will be very interactive, as we are bringing employers of labour and experts who will train the participants on what is required in the workplace,’’ Anyim said.

He said the programme was not only open to students of the university, but to all those interested, irrespective of age.

Earlier in his address of welcome, the Vice Chancellor, NOUN, Prof. Abdalla Adamu, said the issue of unemployment had reduced the capacity of youths in the society.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Adamu was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics, Prof. Joy Eyisi.

He said NOUN was working with the Federal Government to equip youths with essential skills that would enable them to flourish in any given position.

“This programme is a continuous one and I urge youths to avail themselves of the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills that will enable them rise above their counterparts,’’ he said.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Adesola Olusade, commended NOUN for the initiative.

Olusade advised other stakeholders in the education sector to emulate the university.

He said the ministry had put in place a National Youth Job Creation Committee to foster collaboration on youth employment in Nigeria.

“With the launch of this programme today, the NOUN is invited to have a representative on the Inter-Ministerial Committee of the Ministry.

“This is to properly align objectives and strengthen collaboration on this project for the benefit of the youth,’’ Olusade said.