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World Youth Skill Day: Lagos moves to Reimagining Youth Skills Post-Pandemic

World Youth Skill Day: Efforts of the Lagos State Govt to equip the youths with sustainable skills/opportunities to enable them to contribute to the nation’s socio-economic development and growth.

Mrs Bukola Adebiyi trained as a teacher from NCE level to Master degree in School administration but is now thriving as a fashion designer at the Tejuosho Ultra-modern market in Lagos, where she is one of the surest plugs for female ready to wear outfits after diverting to skill acquisition when she after finding out that her many degrees could not guarantee what she considered as satisfactory job placements

Many other Nigerians who studied accountancy, engineering or pharmacy and even medicine have become tailors, makeup artists, musicians and stand up artists, and are thriving in the informal sector, especially outside of their fields of study in higher institutions of learnings abound.

One of such is the story of the beauty entrepreneur, founder and CEO of House of Tara International, Mrs Tara Fela-Durotoye who studied law at the Lagos State University, but had gone on to garner international recognition and MSMEs awards to getting featured on several media programmes and listings in Forbes Magazine in 2013, as one of “20 Young Power Women in Africa” and in the year 2020 as one of “The Top 50 Most Powerful Women In Africa”

NATIONAL YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT & CHALLENGES

Recently, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwunmi Adeshina noted that 38.5% of Nigeria’s youth are unemployed, lacking skills, economic opportunities, and are discouraged, angry and restless, as they look at a future that does not give them hope.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic which had spanned over one year and still counting had its toll on not just the people, but also the economy of many nations, elongating the poverty gap globally, while the World Youth Skills Day is once again been commemorated in the middle of another wave of the pandemic

The Nigeria Economic Summit Group had estimated an increase in the number of poor Nigerians to 90 million last year from 83 million in 2019, describing the rising levels of unemployment and poverty as a reflection of the persistent insecurity and social vices.

With proof of the age-long truism that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop, many jobless, underemployed and dissatisfied youths have been found committing many anti-social activities the most recent being the violence that trailed the EndSARS protest across the country leaving the destruction of many public infrastructure and facilities in ruins.

Lagos was the most hard hit by the EndSARS violence, a situation which many social commentators believe was compounded by the presence of a large number of idle and underemployed youths in the State, many of whom are referred to as hooligans and area boys.

WORKABLE/SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS

Skill acquisition and empowerment had long been recognized in Nigeria as a lasting solution to not just unemployment but also to curb youth restiveness.

A former National Youth Vice-President, South West, Comrade Saliu Adekunle, who acknowledged efforts been made at Federal and State levels to reduce unemployment and in turn curb youth restiveness attributed the huge gap in communication as the bane of these efforts and called for the rebuilding of trust between government and citizens, especially the youths.

He said “Unfulfilled promises across all levels of government have become phenomenal in Nigeria, When trust is re-established and the people are carried along inclusively, then, when a Governor come out to say something, people will not disbelief him”

Comrade Saliu also called for transparency and due accountability in youths empowerment programmes.

“Governments should stop empowering their cronies under the guise of youths empowerment, we have seen situations where some people are trained and it is others, who were not part of the training that got the empowerment items, especially financial support”

The Lagos State Commissioner for Youths and Social Development, Mr Olusegun Dawodu who said the Lagos State government had recognized the importance of equipping youths and this is why Technical and vocational education and training are all forms of empowerment and investments in youths development are being strengthened.

The Commissioner pointed out that the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, LSETF, was specially created to provide grants to entrepreneurs, particularly the young and unemployed who had learnt one skill or the other and are ready to provide services.

He explained that since the EndSARS violence, a series of youths engagement programmes had been held to deepen the conversation between the government and the youths.

On her part, the Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs Solape Hammond, said the government recognised the need for the development of common and inspiring spaces for young people to contribute as active citizens in various social activities aimed at societal advancement.

‘’Development of a country depends on how productive and creative its young population is and how much importance the government accords to its youth. Despite the growing economy and technological progress observed in the State, there are still many societal challenges that need to be overcome to enhance human development, recognising the significant roles the youths can play in the attainment of the SDGs is a potent means to catalysing the development agenda of the state” she emphasised

The Commissioner for Women and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Bolaji Dada whose Ministry currently has nineteen skill acquisition centres spread all over said the State is also partnering with non-governmental organizations on skill acquisition for the teeming youths of Lagos.

“In Lagos, we believe that when the youths are well educated and can easily monetize their various skills, this will reduce, if not totally eradicate their venturing into crimes and other negative actions that could have negative effects on the society” she said

In September last year, over six thousand youths trained in various vocations including welding and aluminium fabrication, shoemaking, hairdressing & cosmetology, as well as leather works and other sought after youths graduated from the skills acquisition centres.

During the ceremony, Babajide Sanwo-Olu who presented the youths with free equipment to enable them to hit the ground running reassured them that a conducive environment for entrepreneurs to thrive is a priority for his administration and that the administration would continue to invest in the training of youths in various vocations to increase the stock of well-trained artisans and skilled workers available in the State.

With youths training and empowerment cutting across various other Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including Agriculture, Health, Commerce, Trade and Industry as well as Wealth Creation and Employment, Civic Engagements with some of them being coordinated by the Office of Sustainable Development Goals, it is obvious that Lagos is working towards achieving the goals one of which is in tandem with the theme of this year’s World Youth Skills Day, “Reimagining Youth Skills Post-Pandemic.”

Omolara Omosanya

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