One of the serious indices of deterioration in the welfare status of Nigerians in recent times is the increasing magnitude of youth unemployment.
This also followed with the revelation by the World Economic Forum on Africa held in Nigeria recently that 112 million workers will join Africa’s Labour market force by 2020. However, in view of the 2011 statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the unemployment rate in Nigeria is 38 percent, and 45 percent of the unemployed youth are in age bracket 18-25, while 18 percent of age 15-20 have no formal education and no skills for employment.
This scary figures did not stop there, as a recent workshop jointly organised by United Nations Children Education Fund and National Planing Commission on validation of draft report on social protection framework noted high rate of unemployment in Nigeria, despite Federal Government and International organisation’s intervention. Moreso available statistics shows that 1.8 million youth enter the job market each year.
These and other reasons however in August this year brough stakeholders forum for officers of the National Directorate of Employment, (NDE), State Operation Coordination Unit (SOCU) and private sector operators involved in National Economic Development, under the Skills for Job component of Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) together to the ancient city of Ibadan to brainstorm on the way forward.
YESSO is a World Bank assisted job creation and sustainable livelihood programme, introduced to provide increased access of poor to employment opportunities.
The Director General of NDE, Malam Abubakar Mohammed who spoke at the opening of the stakeholders forum said the coming together of NDE/Federal Operational Coordination Unit (FOCU)/World Bank in a synergy to implement the Skills for Job (S4J) is a welcome development.
He said Federal Government of Nigeria has obtained financial assistance from the world bank to support the implementation of youth employment and social support operation. According to him, this was in close partnership between Federal Government and about 20 states.
These are Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and Yobe.
Malam Abubakar also said the unit at the Federal Ministry of Finance which is known as Federal Operational Coordination Unit (FOCU), with other participation MDAs such MDG office, NAPED, NDE and the NPC playing important role in the FOCU.
Abubakar reiterated that the support operation is in line with the World Bank and Nigeria committed to poverty reduction by permitting the poor people of Nigeria to access increased opportunities for youth employment and social service delivery.
He said the NDE has over the years been articulating and implementing job creation programmes aimed at re-orienting the youths towards private initiative, self-employment and entrepreneurship. According to him, this is complemented by the provision of business training and business start-ups for youths to establish their own enterprises.
The NDE boss added that the directorate has also offered various opportunities to 3,817,446 unemployed youth in Nigeria, and this imparted through vocational skills development, small- scale enterprise, rural employment promotion, and special public works, micro-enterprise enhancement scheme, women employment training (adire using local materials) and NDE/NYSC sensitisation.
Speaking at the occasion, Team leader, S4J, Mrs. Roseline Olaomi said the task of Job creation has become more challenging than ever, which require a more dynamic and innovative strategy like S4J. She said the introduction of Skills for job in Nigeria, which is one of the components of YESSO, has come at the most appropriate time when job creation efforts require the intervention of all and sundry.
While commending the World Bank for identifying the relevance of skills training to job creation and also the involvement of the NDE to facilitate the skills for job initiative , the team leader however assure the initiators of the operation that the directorate has been carrying out the task with due diligence since 1986.
She disclosed that in ensuring that YESSO and by extension the Skills for job component succeed, the directorate promptly release the creative energies of highly committed staff of the directorate and equipped them to ensure the smooth running of the operation.
According to her, the NDE-YESSO team actively participated in preparation of generic manual, a compendium for the YESSO operation, attended review workshop for major stakeholders on operation manual, attended a workshop on impact evaluation and attended a workshop on community based targeting and single register of poor and vulnerable household.
Others according Mrs. Olaomi are preparation of ToRs for conduct of skills and sector specification training and life skills training, attended several of the YESSO readiness/Assessment meetings, preparation and submission of 2014 annual work plan and budget and orientation programme organised by World Bank and FOCU among others.
The team leader further said that the stakeholders forum was put together to expose members of the NDE Team, representatives of private sector umbrella organisation, heads of S4J programme implementation unit and heads of state operation Coordination unit (SOCU) to understand the entire structure and YESSO operational process.
Is to also highlight more on the silent portions of the generic operation manual with a view to engender comprehension of the skills for job component, provide a veritable platform for interaction with relevant stakeholders involved in the implementation of the skills for job.
“The expected output from this component is trained youth from selected poor and vulnerable households, having jobs or increased earning, one year after completion of the skills for job intervention.
“The trained youth will include males and females with jobs in either self-employment or wage employment in formal or informal sector”.
Also speaking, the World Bank Team Leader for Youth Employment and Social Support Operation, Prof. Foluso Okumadewa said the NDE programme was one of the avenues through which the World Bank funds would be utilised.
He said although the NDE project would gulp $75m, adding the bank would support the venture with $50m, with the government providing the balance.
Okunmadewa said the bank was providing funds and technical support to the operation in Nigeria.
“The NDE is an implementing agency under the programme that the World Bank is funding. We are in partnership with state designated agencies for youth employment and with the private sector organisation in each of the states. The bank is putting in $300m in the whole while the NDE component has $50m this experimental programme. This will rise to about $75m with the contribution from states and federal government to the initiative”.