A Non Governmental Organization, Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND) has made case for innovative approaches to skills development that will contribute to economic growth after COVID-19 pandemic.
Executive Director of the foundation, Dara Akala said unemployment is the most significant challenge in the country, hence the need for skill acquisition by youths.
Akala who spoke at a virtual roundtable with the theme ‘Re-imagining Youth Skills Development Programme and Job Creation for Positive Impact in Post-COVID-19 Economy’, organized by the Foundation, stressed the need for youths to embrace entrepreneurship.
He said “addressing the issue of unemployment is probably the most significant development challenge this time for government both at national and sub-national levels including our region, the Niger Delta, we need innovative approaches to skills development that will contribute to economic growth after COVID-19 pandemic.”
He attributed lack of access to economic activities as bane of development in the Niger Delta region.
“As a matter of fact, the region has recorded some of the highest rates of unemployment in the country and in 2018 for example, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Akwa Ibom State reported the highest rate of unemployment,” Akala said.
He added that “this stood at 37.7 percent, followed by Rivers State with 36.4 percent, Bayelsa 32.6 percent and Abia State 31.6 percent and so on and forth. And this was before the advent of COVID-19 pandemic.”
Quoting the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Akala said COVID-19 has been described as the most severe crisis since World War 11.
He added that with 30.4 percent economic shrink in Nigeria this year as projected by International Monetary Fund (IMF), due to COVID-19, the country’s unemployment rate already at an average of about 23 percent is expected to climb higher.
Speaking on the intervention by the Foundation to address youth unemployment, he stated that PIND came up with Niger Delta Youth Employment Pathway (NDYEP) in 2017.
“This project that we started in 2017 to address the issues of youth job readiness, work force development and jobs creation are being piloted in three states of Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers.
We focus on few sectors that were pre-selected: ICT is one of them and renewables, construction, agriculture and other emerging growth sectors showing potential for youth employment,” Akala explained.
According to him, “In the pilot phase, NDYEP has enrolled and delivered short-term technical, soft skills training and job/enterprise linkages to over 4,500 youth while over 1,300 youth who successfully completed the program have been supported to transition into internship placements, waged employment and entrepreneurship/self-employment.”
He explained that NDYEP is an innovative model that is designed not just to train but prepare youths including the young people living in the rural areas, women and persons living with disability with market relevant skills for securing sustainable jobs.