World Youth Skills Day and the Nigerian Labor Market (I)

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2014 designating July 15 as World Youth Skills Day to improve the socio-economic situation of young people and address the problems of underemployment and unemployment.

Since then, World Youth Skills Day activities have served as a forum for discussion between young people, technical and vocational education and training institutions, businesses, employers’ organizations, workers’ organizations, development partners and policy makers to also encourage the abolition of gender discrimination. .

The world celebrates World Youth Skills Day on July 15 with the theme “Transforming Youth Skills for the Future” to highlight the strategic value of equipping young people with the skills they need for employment, entrepreneurship and work.

This day focused on the crucial role that talented young people play in solving current and future global issues to provide the skills needed for self-employment.

In addition, it is easier for businesses and communities to meet the changing demands for skills that boost productivity and income levels. It also reduces the obstacles to professional integration through work-linked training while guaranteeing the recognition and certification of the skills acquired.

The acquisition of skills is one of the main pillars that helps people achieve their aspirations and provide for those who do not have the opportunity to work with public or private organizations with university degrees.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has implemented a skills acquisition program through the National Directorate of Employment (NDE). Vocational skills development, entrepreneurship development, agricultural skills training and public works programs were the four main areas of intervention that the NDE developed to create a large number of jobs for the unemployed.

The government has launched the National Youth Employment and Skills Program to encourage entrepreneurship. The program offers many opportunities to learn new skills including hairdressing, computer programming, makeup application, headwear making, fashion design, sewing, catering, appliance repair mechanical and electrical, furniture making and woodworking, tie-and-dye manufacturing and home. management. Skills acquisition is a proven method for significantly promoting economic development, reducing poverty, insurgency and crime rates, increasing the number of entrepreneurial jobs available, providing participants with experience and skills and raise their standard of living.

The government has worked tirelessly to provide young people and learners with technical and vocational skills through formal and informal channels in all states of the federation. They provide young people with the necessary tools, establishing technical colleges, polytechnics, monotechnics, vocational enterprise institutions, innovation enterprise institutions and model vocational training centers.

However, despite the awareness of World Youth Skills Day to boost self-employment and reduce unemployment in the country, Nigeria continues to experience rising unemployment and underemployment coupled with the growing population growth in the country. .

Nigeria’s population in 2020 was estimated at 206.1 million, which increased to 216.6 million in July 2022. The working-age population also maintained an upward trend. Nigeria’s working-age population grew from 116.8 million in June 2020 to over 122 million in December of the same year.

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The Nigerian workforce comprises over 80 million people, of which almost 23 million people between the ages of 25 and 34 made up the majority of the labor force in 2020. The second most populous group, with almost 20 million of people, is those aged 35 to 44, and the third group is between the ages of 15-24, with nearly 17 million people in the labor force. There were about 13 million working people between the ages of 45 and 54, while people between the ages of 55 and 64 constitute more than 7 million of the entire working population.

Statistics also show that more than 300,000 young Nigerians enter the job market each month, 19% of whom are already mothers or pregnant with their first child.

Along the same lines, data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that unemployment and underemployment rates in the country have continued to trend upwards. The unemployment rate rose to 33.3% in the fourth quarter of 2020 and the underemployment rate to 22.8%. Youth unemployment was 42.5% and youth underemployment stood at 21% in the country.

However, higher unemployment does not necessarily mean more job losses. Instead, an increase in unemployment can be caused by several factors, the loss of a current job being only one. An increase in unemployment usually indicates that more people are looking for work. This may be due to people who were not previously employed (such as students or unemployed housewives) deciding to enter the labor market and looking for work, or it may be due to people who were previously employed but are now looking for work.

Busayo Aderounmu is an economist and researcher.

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