Boosting youths’ skills to tackle unemployment

Rising unemployment is a challenge in Nigeria. According to Labour and Prodcutivity Minister Dr. Chris Ngige, 35 per cent of the population will become jobless by 2020. In the next five years, there are fears that the deployment of technology will make thousands of young people jobless. This was the focal point of a forum organised by Knowledge Exchange Centre in Lagos last weekend, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

HOW best is the country going to ensure that young people are prepared for the world of work in the face of challenges?

This was the focal point at a forum organised in Lagos by  Knowledge Exchange Centre (KEC), a non–profit organisation established to tackle employment issues among fresh university graduates in Nigeria. While technology is leading to more efficient and effective ways of doing things, experts at the forum expressed concerns that growing automation would  lead to job losses. They said while new jobs were being created, some were being phased out.

Firing the first salvo, KEC founder  Charles Nwodo said in some sectors, technology had led to job losses as it  substituted humans with robots.

While  the advent of intelligent technology in work places has helped   companies to increase efficiency and drive competitiveness, which will boost economic growth, Nwodo     however, said a large percentage of jobs was at risk of automation, meaning Nigeria could experience major job losses.

He said increasing investment in intelligent technologies and human-machine collaboration are going to raise unemployment levels as automation is replacing human tasks and jobs, and changing the skills that organisations are looking for.

According to him, the impact of technology on the economy is undeniable. He added that artificial intelligence, robotics and other forms of smart automation are helping to grow the economy.

Consequently, he  said only people with the skills and resources to use technology and  create value can thrive in today’s digital world.

He noted that new high-skill jobs are emerging, while other jobs may be displaced by automation and new technologies.

These momentous changes, according to him, raise huge organisational talent and human resources challenges.

He expressed fear that youths are not making efforts  to improve themselves competitively in the face of the disrupting impact of technology on employment opportunities.

As the types of jobs that constitute a modern economy continue to evolve, he said there is a need to upgrade skills required to do them.

He said in many areas of work, the labour market is now global, adding that multi-national corporations seek the best talent around the world to  work for them in the country.

He advised workers to prepare themselves to compete on a global scale for  jobs, adding  that digital technologies have  removed geographical barriers, adding that global labour surplus makes competition among workers even fiercer.

To meet the challenge, he said it was important to review the education system  for preparing, educating, training and retraining the current and future workforce to keep up with the pace of digital transformation.

Ford Foundation Regional Representative, Innocent Chukwuma said the nation’s young workforce is a key factor for success in today’s economy. Young entrepreneurs, he said, contribute to the economy and make the country prosperous.

Stressing the importance of boosting human capital, Chukwuma said with an estimated inflow of $25 billion remitted by Nigerians in Diaspora last year, Nigerians living outside the country are the country’s biggest export.

Chukwuma noted, however, that unemployment is one of the most pressing concerns among young people, adding that tackling youth unemployment goes beyond skills training, and requires strategic partnerships in research and training between universities, and incentives to spur youth entrepreneurship.

Lagos State Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment (Mrs.) Uzamat Akinbile said the state  is concerned about the massive production of graduates with degrees and skills that have limited practical use in the job markets.

Represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Raji Abidemi, the Commissioner said the massive mismatch between graduate skills and job market needs often leads to under-employment of university graduates.

To avoid creating more unemployed or unemployable graduates, she said the state government is initiating curriculum reform geared towards entrepreneurial skills and jobs.

She said the state government has established linkages with the private sector on skills building to empower graduates to compete for jobs.

The state, she said, has established job registration centres to act as a bridge between industry and graduates looking for employment.

KEC Executive Secretary, Maria Glover said skills shortage is a harrowing problem in the country. According to her, Nigeria faces an enormous unemployment problem while at the same time the economy is being constrained from growing at its full potential due to shortage of appropriate skills.

According to her, the centre runs various job readiness meant to place graduates into full-time jobs, adding that participants receive skills training in collaboration, critical and creative thinking, communication and supported with the personal skills and tool sets required to succeed in the modern workplace.

One of its key programmes is its Graduate Advancement Programme (GAP) Network.

She said the GAP Network is an intervention that addresses critical areas that plague young graduates.

She said the  issues are addressed in a structured way through the GAP Network support system that affords participants to interact with trainers, counsellors, mentorsand  human resource managers, employers of labour and other professionals who provide them  tips and tutorials  to gain employment and grow their careers.

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Add a Comment
  1. Skill and business of the 21st century is the way forward

  2. skill acquisation development is also an option

  3. This is so true, almost everyone is now self-employed

  4. Skill acquisition is not a waste so I don’t go contrary to this even though am a ranter.

  5. skill acqisation or just keep on ranting is fyn by me

  6. That the truth indeed, then we smartly switch to self employment.

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