LAGOS, Nigeria – Mustapha Fasasi, a 34-year-old indigene of Oyo State, South-West Nigeria, is excited about his recently-acquired skill of solar panel installation for homes and small businesses.
With prior interest in solar and renewable energy, he signed up for the vocational skills training hosted by the Alliance for Youth Nigeria, as soon as he heard about the training through a radio programme.
“The training was an extremely rewarding experience for me as I have been equipped with the hands-on skills and knowledge required to immediately commence solar panel installations and start earning income to support myself and my family. I look forward to further personal development till I become an expert in this sector,” he said.
Mustapha is one of over 500 young people, who are beneficiaries of the vocational skills training held in Ibadan and Kano.
Despite young people being a tremendous resource for sustainable development, Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate stands at 53.7 per cent according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
There is, therefore, a pressing need for innovative and hands on interventions, including entrepreneurship education, in reversing this trend.
The Alliance for Youth Nigeria is addressing this need, with the recent conclusion of a vocational skills training programme, delivered in collaboration with Whitefield Foundation.
The training which enables young people acquire knowledge, skills and confidence for self-sustainability, covered four skillsets – Solar panel installation, Graphics Design and Social Media Management, Beauty Care (make-up, aromatherapy and massage) and Web Development and Digital Marketing. The selected skill sets were identified as quick-to-market and high-impact economic areas with immediate opportunities for earning a decent income and improving livelihood.
Launched in August 2021, the Alliance is a business-driven movement of organisations passionate about working together to help young people around the country acquire the necessary skills to thrive in the world of work or create their own enterprise.
Members of the Alliance for Youth Nigeria include Nestlé Nigeria, Jobberman Nigeria, Big Bottling Company, the United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria and U-Connect HR Limited with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund and Activate Success International as partner organisations.
The member and partner organisations are committed to equipping young Nigerians with employability and entrepreneurial skills to enable them secure gainful employment or set up businesses of their own. They have also positioned themselves to invest in joint and individual projects to give young Nigerians meaningful work experience, internships, readiness-for-work training, and mentoring opportunities and are committed to contributing towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8 – to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all by 2030 and Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals.
Over the last two years, the Alliance has empowered over 16,000 young people with employability and entrepreneurial trainings, internship and mentoring opportunities equipping them for the world of work and business.
In commemoration of the 2023 International Youth Day and second-year anniversary of the Alliance, high-flyers of the vocational skills training in Ibadan and Kano, were gifted start-up kits to enable the speedy commencement of their businesses. High-flyers from the graphics design and digital marketing trainings were provided laptops, those from the Beauty, massage and aromatherapy training were provided make-up tool kits and massage beds while high-flyers from the solar panel installation trainings were awarded complete toolboxes for their vocation.
According to Ahmed Alaga, President of the Alliance and Programme Manager Partnerships, Jobberman Nigeria, “Young people are the engine for growth and development, a huge resource and great asset for national advancement. The Alliance for Youth Nigeria is committed to supporting young Nigerians with the skills, trainings and knowledge that will increase their chances of getting gainful employment opportunities or becoming entrepreneurs, unleashing their true potential.”
In his comments at the Ibadan event, Shakiru Lawal, Vice President of the Alliance and Country HR Manager, Nestlé Nigeria PLC said, “Young people are central in building the nation we all desire. At Nestlé, we believe that communities cannot thrive if we fail to offer a future to them. This is why we are committed to working with stakeholders and like-minded organisations to help young people develop their skills so they can find jobs or create their own businesses.
“I am delighted that the trainees have acquired capacities and capabilities to make a difference, enhance opportunities for self-employment and economic productivity. To the exceptional trainees being provided with start-up kits today, I urge you to positively use these skills to make a living and serve your communities.”
Tumi Onamade, Secretary of the Alliance and Senior Manager, Participant Engagement &
Programmes, UN Global Compact Nigeria Network who was at the Ibadan event said, “Today we stand united in celebration of two impactful years of collaborative youth empowerment. At the United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria, we recognise that scaling up action and investing in the youth not only creates economic opportunities but also helps businesses grow and stay sustainable, echoing SDG 8: Decent work and Economic Growth.
“To the beneficiaries of the start-up kits, you are now empowered with skills and equipped with tools, embrace this opportunity to turn your dreams into thriving realities. Your journey starts now! As we commemorate the International Youth Day, we reaffirm our commitment to the Alliance for Youth Nigeria, fostering SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals. Our journey as an Alliance remains unwavering, bound by purpose and guided by the firm belief that by investing in youth today, we build a stronger tomorrow.”
In a statement, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Abubakar Ismail said, “With the huge number of youth entering the labour market annually in Nigeria, and limited job opportunities in the formal sector, skills based entrepreneurship remains a viable option for economic empowerment, job creation especially in the small and medium enterprise sector, and improvement of the general standard of living.
“Globally, entrepreneurs have advanced development through innovations in all sectors. The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is committed to the development of appropriate Policy Frameworks, such as the National Youth Policy which has employment and entrepreneurship as strategic thrusts and the Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan, with priority focus on employability, entrepreneurship, employment creation equality and rights. We are delighted to be part of the Alliance for Youth Nigeria and will continue to collaborate with stakeholders to create opportunities for youth development.”
Expressing his delight on behalf of his colleagues, Mustapha Fasisi said, “Thanks to the facilitators, the training is of huge benefit to us as it was very easy to understand and implement. We are deeply grateful to the Alliance for investing in upskilling young people and further awarding those of us who excelled at the training with start-up kits. We promise to maximally deploy the skills and tools to commence our businesses.”
On her part, Mariya Ahmad Jibrin, who participated in the Kano training in the graphics design category expressed her gratitude to the Alliance for the transformative training experience which has equipped her with the skills to create impactful designs, affirming that the laptop provided to her as a start-up kit is an invaluable and treasured support for her business.
The Alliance for Youth Nigeria is committed to continued investment in capacity development of young people, equipping them with the right skills and experience in a rapidly evolving world and for a better future.
With 70 per cent of her population under 30, Nigeria has one of the largest youth population in the world, representing a remarkable opportunity for development and growth.
The International Youth Day celebrated annually on 12 August, is an opportunity for governments, internationally and nationally, and other stakeholders to draw attention to youth issues worldwide, particularly as related to health, education and employment while celebrating the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World”.