The National Youth Service Corps(NYSC) was formed as a means of promoting national integration. The scheme has not only served as a forum for national integration, but also as an avenue for some Nigerians to exploit innocent fresh graduates.

It is no longer news that the rate of unemployment in Nigeria is very high, and the government has not been doing enough to assuage this. There are few jobs available for graduates to take up after their compulsory one-year service to the nation in the NYSC scheme. Motivational speakers/career coaches have made things worse by advising young graduates to improve themselves and position themselves for gainful employment by obtaining professional certifications without telling them how to go about it. As good as their advice is, fresh graduates tend to take it the wrong way, and fall prey to companies offering several professional certifications. Many corps members in a bid to position themselves for gainful employment have paid thousands of Naira for such programs.

Wherever you are posted in Nigeria, many companies will be waiting for you to introduce courses like Health, Safety&Environment, Project Management, Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA), etc. These courses come at different prices usually starting from N10,000, and they are mostly concluded in a weekend or two; lectures and exams. You’d be given a certificate to show that you have participated. Aren’t certifications not about certificates? It is sad how corps members out of their desperation to be in a position to get a good job fall for it.

Before signing up for any professional certifications, aren’t there questions you should ask yourself? Of course there are several questions begging for answers. If you can’t answer 70% of those questions satisfactorily, you’d be better off feeding with your money or buying nice things for yourself. I will list just two of those questions below. These are the same questions Akin asked himself only after he had spent tens of thousands on a professional certification which turned out to be baseless. These are the same questions Femi has been asking himself after spending 6months without a job and without anyone commending him on his four professional certifications, with some potential employers having to ask him “which body offers this?”. You have a chance to answer those questions now and make the right decision before you get to where companies will brainwash you and coax you into signing up for courses they offer. Here are the two questions you should ponder on.

1. What kind of job do I want after now? Although it may be hard having a straight answer to this due to the kind of country we’ve found ourselves, but you should have a list of the kind of jobs you can do. Have a plan, it will help you do things right.

2. What kind of certifications are relevant to the jobs I can/want to do? For example, if you are looking at a career in taxation(Revenue boards of the Federal government and states, private tax companies), get certified by Chartered Institute of Taxation(CITN). Other examples are Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria(APCON), Chartered Institute of Personnel Management(CIPM), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria(ICAN), etc.

There are so many questions like I earlier mentioned, but if you are convinced with your answers to the two questions above, you may proceed in whatever you want to do.

I never said those safety courses are bad nor did I say project management is a scam. In fact, they are essential courses for Engineers. But if you have to do those courses, make sure the company certifying you are themselves certified. It happened in Uyo when two companies offering safety courses and Project management courses held their program in the same secondary school. I had friends on both sides, and they came back with the same story of their tutors calling the other company fake. Are we thinking alike? I think they are both fake and they know it. I know there will be some genuine ones around. Ask around and be sure before you let them take your hard-earned money in exchange for a printed paper they call certificate.

These people are so good at what they do that they can convince a doctor to take a course on taxation. They are not the worst of all as the NYSC has joined forces with NIM to convince lawyers, engineers, doctors, scientists, to take their examinations. It comes so cheap that everyone is encouraged to offer it. The certificate comes with the NIM logo on a side and NYSC on the other. What kind of professional body gives a real professional certificate with an irrelevant body’s logo on same? NIM is a registered and viable body, but the certificate they offer to corps members who offer their courses is not viable. Maybe I’m wrong, but ask everyone working now who has the NIM/NYSC certificate if it was one of the professional qualifications that got them the job. If you still doubt me, check out CITN, ICAN, APCON, CIPM’s certificates.

Nigeria is a country where everyone takes advantage of everybody. They know of your desperation to get professional certifications, hence your vulnerability. They have goods to sell and know you’d buy without asking questions because they will attack where you are weakest; you crave a good job after youth service and you heard professional certifications are the keys. Professional certifications don’t just fall on people’s lap, they sweat for it! You can’t just get yours in a weekend or two and expect it to be just what you need. I have never heard anyone fail those safety courses, those project management courses; they are just there for the taking.

I’m a man of few words, therefore I will stop here. I just hope I’ve been able to torch your path as you serve your nation in the NYSC scheme, or even you, as you search for your dream job. Think twice before you choose.

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