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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

IYD: Young people central in building nation we all desire – Nestlé

Annually on Aug. 12, the International Youth Day celebrates the determination, ideas and leadership of young people as humanity works toward a better world.

L to R : Ayodeji Odesola, a representative of Activate Success International; Tumi Onamade, Senior Manager, Participant Engagement & Programmes, UN Global Compact Nigeria Network; Shakiru Lawal, Country HR Manager, Nestlé Nigeria PLC; Simbo Akinrosotu, Chief Youth Development Officer, Enterprise Development and Promotion Department, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development; and Tayo Fadipe, Project Coordinator, White Field Foundation

The youth is so important as they represent an important human resource within society, renewing, refreshing, maintaining as well as acting like agents of social change, economic development and progress.

The theme for 2023  International Youth Day is: Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World”.

The US Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, recognising their critical place in the society, says humanity depends on the boundless energy, ideas and contributions of youth everywhere.

In so doing, he urges that “today and every day, let’s support and stand with young people in shaping a just and sustainable world, for people and planet’’.

However, in spite of  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.

To help bridge the gap, 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 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 are identified as quick-to-market and high-impact economic areas with immediate opportunities for earning a decent income and improving livelihood.

According to Nestlé Nigeria, a member of the Alliance, the project is being carried out in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8, which is to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all by 2030

Over the last two years, the Alliance has empowered no fewer than 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.

In his comments at the Ibadan event, Mr 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,” the Country HR Manager, Nestlé Nigeria PLC says.

Ahmed Alaga, President of the Alliance and Programme Manager, Partnerships, Jobberman Nigeria, affirms that 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,’’ he says.

Tumi Onamade, Secretary of the Alliance and Senior Manager, Participant Engagement & Programmes, UN Global Compact Nigeria Network, also spoke at the Ibadan event.

He said: “Today we stand united in celebration of two impactful years of collaborative youth empowerment.

“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.”

The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development also commended the efforts and says it 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.

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.

“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.”

Mustapha Fasasi, 34, an indigene of Oyo State, South-West Nigeria, is a beneficiary of the programme and expresses his excitement 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 says.

Mustapha is one of over 500 young people who are beneficiaries of the vocational skills training held in Ibadan and Kano.

Mariya Ahmad Jibrin, who participated in the Kano training in the graphics design category, expresses her gratitude to the Alliance for the transformative training experience which has equipped her with the skills to create impactful designs.

She attests that the laptop provided to her as a start-up kit is an invaluable and treasured support for her business.

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.

Also, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund and Activate Success International are partner organisations.

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.

For this, Nestle Nigeria and member/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.

With the huge objective of reaching 250,000 young Nigerians with employability and entrepreneurial skills within three years from the inauguration of the Alliance in August 2021, the Nestle Nigeria and members of the Alliance claim they remain focused in closing the gap.

“We remain committed to working together to address the challenges of youth unemployment in the country.

“And as we continue to expand partnerships and collaborations, we are assured that we are on the right track to the actualisation of our objectives,’’ Lawal had earlier said.

By Augusta Uchediunor

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