It is a bit rare to find young people who are so passionate about the cadre of graduates that Nigerian Universities produce. A few days ago, Startup Nigeria had an interesting chat with the founder of My Placement Africa-Toluwase Olaniyan. This outspoken Kwara state indigene is also a graduate of Accounting. Toluwase spoke to us about his dreams for the Nigerian educational system and what he is currently doing to ensure that unemployment in Africa as a whole, is brought to its barest minimum. Below are excerpts from the interview.
What is My Placement Africa and what problem is it trying to solve?
My Placement Africa is an Internship placement and career building company that took off fully in July 2015. Here, we build individuals by providing them with internship placements so they can learn while they work. For organizations without internship structures, we build an internship model for them after which interns will be placed within the organization. The general idea is to build individuals through experienced based job. By this model, we hope to reduce unemployment while improving the quality of graduates we produce.
You just mentioned that the general idea is to “build individuals” how do you intend to do this?
We are soon to launch the MPA Academy. It’s an academy where students and recent graduates can learn soft skills that will enhance their employability but for now we place these interns in companies where they learn and get paid stipends for time spent with the companies.
So if I understand you correctly, the idea is to have a physical structure where you can train individuals and then place them in various organizations right?
So how do you source and locate potential interns?
We have a digital platform where they register. On the site, we display the internship positions available so interested persons can apply. We then invite the best applications for interviews and place them with the various companies afterwards.
How are things looking currently?
It has been overwhelming; we have had over 1000 interns applying in less than two month of operation but we have plans to engage just as many companies in the future too.
How much do you think businesses should leverage on technology? Considering the fact that there is an online and offline market they have to reach
It is obvious we are in the digital world, leveraging on Technology is the only way any business can move from where it was to where it wants or where it should be. In less than 2 months we would be opening up our Tanzanian portal on MY Placement Africa and we hope to include four more African countries before the end of the year, this is all thanks to digital technology. The easiest way to reach the offline audience these days is still online.
Our blog visitors would like to know what inspired you to set out
A quest to find an alternative solution to the issue of unemployment in Africa led me to this. I felt it was time to go back to the drawing board, so I did and came up with MPA.
Can u describe what you think of the current educational system in the country in relation to the current unemployment rate and what part you think the government and private sector should play in the grand scheme of things
Our educational system not just in Nigeria, but In Africa as a whole is in a sorry state. Little wonder we produce a bulk of graduates who are in sorry states. To ensure we change this current image, first we need to restructure the curriculum. We still use the same curriculum our fathers used over 5 decades ago. This ought not to be so because the world has changed.
Secondly our academic structure should be flexible enough to allow students do some other things while getting on the job training. In UK and America students work while they are in school, it gives a clear picture of how things are done in the real world. In summary they are able to gain practical experience while there are still in school.
In addition, the private sector should learn to reward academic excellence properly. Tell me when a first class students gets N50,000 for coming tops in a university and the most beautiful girl in a pageant in the same school gets N5million….. Which of these do you think would have more audience next year? If we can put these few things in place first, we will definitely have an upward shift in the quality of graduates we produce.
Thank you so much for gracing us with your presence. It was a pleasure chatting with you. Would you care to leave a few last words for our readers though?
Thanks for having me, celebrating local content is important and it really means a lot to me. For the readers, i would like to say this; you can be who you want to be, you just have to be willing to put in the time and effort to achieve your goals. Worried about your career path? Feel free to visit our site to explore all the opportunities that are currently on offer.