By Oluwafunke Ishola
His Majesty, King Charles III of England, has set up an initiative to tackle unemployment, bridge skills gap and enhance employability of Nigerian youths.
This was disclosed during the Prince’s Trust International (PTI) Recruitment Fair on Tuesday in Lagos.
The fair was done in collaboration with the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and Field of Skills and Dreams (FSD).
Mr Will Straw, the Chief Executive Officer, PTI, said that job scarcity was a global challenge and not peculiar to Nigeria.
Straw noted that Nigerian youths are faced with the issues of skills, jobs and experience gaps.
“Over 10 million Nigerian children are out of school.
“Many more leave school early to start earning; among those who complete their schooling, many can leave education without the skills needed to enter the workforce.
“And with far more job seekers than formal jobs, most young people in Nigeria have to work in the informal sector, which makes up over half of the economy.
“Young people are told you can’t get a job because you lack experience, but can’t gain experience because you can’t get a job,” he said.
To address these challenges, Straw said that the PTI aims to bridge the gap by focusing on programmes that would equip youths with skills.
Straw noted that the PTI was founded by His Majesty King Charles III to tackle the global crisis of youth unemployment.
He added that the programmes are in 23 countries around the world.
According to him, the PTI in collaboration with local partners work on providing opportunities to develop the skills, communication, resilience and confidence of youths to succeed and deliver tangible employment outcomes.
“We work with local partners to deliver education, employment and enterprise programmes that empower young people to learn, earn and thrive,” he said.
Straw said the PTI was working with the private sector to recruit youths, noting that 96 per cent of youths that had undergone their programmes were employed within three months.
“Our ambition in Nigeria is to create life-changing opportunities for young people, aiming to directly support tens of thousands of young people in the years ahead and many more indirectly in their families and communities,” he said.
Similarly, Ms Arunma Oteh, the PTI’s Trustee and former Vice President, World Bank, said that 60 per cent of Nigeria’s population are youths, noting that investment in youths was worthwhile and sustainable for development.
Oteh, who was also a former Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission in Nigeria, expressed excitement at the possibility the programme portends for young Nigerians, employers and the country.
She said that Nigerian youths are hardworking, creative, and resilient.
Oteh said the launch of the PTI in Nigeria would catalyse more changes and development in the country.
Also, Mr Oyerinde Adewale-Smatt, the Director-General, NECA, said unemployment was a great challenge for the country and was projected to grow to 40 per cent in 2023.
Adewale-Smatt said that the partnership plays a critical role in addressing unemployment, skills gaps and employability in Nigeria and Africa.
Similarly, Mrs Omowale Ogunrinde, Founder, FSD, said that many employers are looking beyond certificates to skills that would enhance the values and operations of the organisation.
Ogunrinde disclosed that 3,891 applicants applied for the recruitment fair, but 120 were successful and shortlisted for the recruitment process with 30 organisations at the fair.
Earlier, Ms Kachollom Daju, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, said that unemployment was an issue of concern to the Federal Government.
Daju said that the government had made deliberate efforts to bridge the youth unemployment gaps through several interventions including upgrading of skills centres and the National Development Plan, among others.
She commended the organisers of the fair, noting that it aligns with the government’s effort to bridge unemployment, reduce poverty and enhance development in the country. (NAN)
Edited by Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma