Roadmap to youth employment, By Jide Ayobolu

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The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, in partnership with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the International Labour Organisation, has commenced a nationwide campaign to comprehend the aspirations of young Nigerians on decent work.

It said the campaign would help develop a roadmap towards designing effective policy and programmes that would ensure that young Nigerians are adequately prepared to get and create jobs. According to a statement titled ‘Nigeria takes steps to implement the Nigeria Youth Employment Action Plan’, the campaign is being managed by the Nigeria Youth SDGs Network, a coalition of youth-led civil society organisations.

It described the campaign as part of the implementation of the Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan, a four-year detailed plan to address the youth employment challenge in Nigeria in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.

The statement said the NIYEAP had been developed to complement and operate in the context of existing policies, frameworks, and strategies such as the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the National Youth Policy, the National Employment Policy, the United Nations Development Partnership Framework and the Call for Action.

It said, “The ministry, however, commenced activities for the review of the NIYEAP four-year-plan in the year 2018, in collaboration with the United Nations, which also launched the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youths, a multi-stakeholder partnership to advance the implementation of youth employment-related targets of the 2030 Agenda in the year 2016.

“The Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan serves as a commitment of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youths.”

According to the statement, with a focus on employment creation, employability, equality and rights as well as entrepreneurship, the priority themes of NIYEAP are further delineated into strategic lines of action listed under each theme.

It said emphasis would be placed on sectors with high job creation potential, such as digital economy, rural economy, green economy and renewable energy sector, manufacturing, tourism and construction.

The statement said, “The action plan is a fundamental framework to address youth employment and it emphasises finding solutions with and for young people who are seeking decent and productive jobs.

“The nationwide campaign commenced on July 21, 2020, with a survey that can be accessed through virtual platforms. “Through the survey, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the International Labour Organisation are gathering the views of the Nigerian youth on employment prospects and needs of youth that will inform policy direction and ensure the right approaches are pursued to implement the NIYEAP.”

In 2019, the estimated youth unemployment rate in Nigeria was at almost 14 percent. According to the source, the data are estimates from the International Labour Organization, an agency of the United Nations developing policies to set labor standards.

The youth unemployment rate refers to the percentage of the unemployed in the age group of 15 to 24 years as compared to the total labor force.

Youth unemployment rates are often higher than overall unemployment rates, which is true in Nigeria as well: the general rate of unemployment was approximately six percent in 2018. One reason for this contrast is that many of the youth under age 24 are studying full-time and are unavailable for work due to this.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics reveals Nigeria’s unemployment rate as at the second quarter of 2020 is 27.1% indicating that about  21,764,614 (21.7 million) Nigerians remain unemployed. Nigeria’s unemployment and underemployment rate (28.6%) is a combined 55.7%.

This means the total number of Nigerians who are unemployed or underemployed as at 2020 Q2. The data also reveals the worst-hit are Nigerian youths with over 13.9 million currently unemployed.  In Q3 2018, the last time the report was released there were about 13.1 million Nigerian youths unemployed. Youth between the ages 15-24 have about 6.8 million Nigerians out of jobs and another 7.1 million also unemployed.

·       The highest unemployment rate was recorded for youths between 15 – 24 years 40.8%,

·       This is followed by ages 25 – 34 years at 30.7%.

·       NCE/OND and Nursing recorded an unemployment rate of 30.8%

·       The unemployment rate amongst second-degree holders (M.Sc/MS/MAdm) stood at 22.9%

·       Unemployment rate as classified by Doctorate degree holders is 23.3%

The NBS also reports Nigeria’s youth population eligible to work is about 40 million out of which only 14.7 million are fully employed and another 11.2 million are unemployed. A high youth unemployment rate is synonymous with increased insecurity and poverty a situation that is also seen as a ticking time bomb.

To put things into context, Nigeria’s unemployed youth of 13.1 million is more than the population of Rwanda and several other African countries. Youth Population is also about 64% of total unemployed Nigerians suggesting that the most agile working-class population in the country remains unemployed.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also worsened the economic condition in the country making it even harder for employers to create more jobs.

The private sector has relied on cutting jobs in the guise of downsizing and right sizing to reduce overheads and stay afloat.

The recent data also buttresses the high rate of Nigerians seeking greener pastures outside the country with most of them highly skilled and looking for jobs of the future.

According to most recent data, in 2019 about 12,600 Nigerians gained permanent residency in Canada last year helping the country to become the fourth-leading source country of new immigrants to Canada, behind India, China, and the Philippines.

Last year, the Government of Canada revealed Nigeria ranks third in the rating of the countries with the highest number of Express Entry invitations to Canada in 2018. This is revealed in the 2018 report released by the Canada Government. According to the report, a total number of 6,025 Citizens of Nigeria received invitations to apply (ITAs) for Canadian Express Entry in 2018. It was further revealed that Nigeria is just behind China who recorded 6,248 ITAs in 2018.

Youth unemployment in Nigeria has become one of the most serious socio-economic problems confronting the country. Unemployed youths are therefore readily available for so many antisocial criminal activities that undermine the stability of our society and Nigeria in general.

Similarly, the devastating impact of this problem of unemployment is the massive increase in rural-urban migration, leading to an increased congestion and criminal activities in the urban areas. Therefore, the need for strategies that will lead to job creation for the teeming youths and social development is needed.

Hence, in order to address the youth unemployment in Nigeria, there is need for a holistic approach; as short-cuts will not work any longer. Unemployment is one of the developmental problems that face every developing country, economy in the 21st century. International statistics portray that industrial and service workers living in developing region account for about two-thirds of the unemployed.

The Nigeria economy since the attainment of political independent in 1960 has undergone fundamental structural changes.

The domestic structural shifts have however not resulted in any significant and sustainable economic growth and development.

Available data shows that the Nigerian economy grows relatively in the greater part of the 1970s with respect to the oil boom encouraged wasteful expenditures in the public sector dislocation of the employment factor and also distorted the revenue vases for policy planning.

This among many other crisis resulted in the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in 1986 and the current economic returns. i.e care collective if the economic structural returns is the total restructuring of the Nigerian economy in the face of population explosion. In recent times, the definition of unemployment by the international labour organization (ILO) is said to be more encompassing the unemployed is a member of the economically active population who have lost their jobs and those who have voluntarily left work.

Employment is a fundamental tool that can yield better result on the economic development of a nation, if its principle and implementation is strictly adhered to when resources are employed; it is advised that they should be used effectively and efficiently in a better way. In general, the national government, employment bodies and other private organizations need to tackle all necessary actions and steps which are possible to ensure effective employment of the nation’s resources.

This will in turn aid to help solve other societal problems that are attributed to unemployment, such as criminal activities, drug abuse, etc.

Unemployment is as old as the existence of human beings in social forms. As old as it is, there remains as to what constitute it within any social set up.

The following steps should be put in place in order to achieve its employment aims and objectives; National youth empowerment and vocational skill development programme should be redesigned for youths in reorganization of the facts that over 70 per cent of the unemployed productive and marketable skills. The most suitable way to salvage this problem of unemployment is to return the economy back to status like this can only is achieve by the effort of government empowerment programmes of the youths at large. Secondly, should provide small scale industries and enabling environment for private sector to establish industries in order to employ the teeming youths in the country. Lastly, policy makers should intensify sensitization on the dangers of drugs abuse to human life.

Jide Ayobolu is a Lagos-based public affairs analyst

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