In an attempt to address the skills gap in the employment sector and leverage Nigeria’s huge population of young people to drive economic prosperity, European businesses operating in the country and the European Union have said that the youth demographic has the potential to transform the country.
At a stakeholders conference titled, “Youths, Education, Employment and Skills”, and hosted by European Business Chambers (Eurocham) in Lagos recently, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Samuela Isopi said that the Youth, Education, Employability, and Skills is a top priority for the European Union, both internally and in its cooperation with partner countries.
“Demography has indeed the potential to help transform Nigeria; but it also poses challenges in terms of demand for quality education, skill development, and employment”, the EU ambassador said.
In a statement, Isopi was quoted as saying that European companies had continued to play leading roles in Nigeria’s economy, providing jobs, creating values, and contributing to the country’s economy.
While the European Union is the leading contributor to the Jubilee Fellowship Fund, Eurocham member companies are notable destinations for interns, with 16 of them already participating in the innovative programme.
Isopi, who also doubles as Honorary President of Eurocham Nigeria, described human capital as key to Nigeria’s development, adding that the EU, its member states, and EU businesses recognised this in their engagements with the country.
The participants at the conference also discussed the European Union and Eurocham Nigeria’s role in the Nigeria Jubilee Fellowship programme, a collaborative initiative between the Nigerian government and key stakeholders to build a reservoir of innovative and employable skills in the country, by placing smart young graduates in paid one-year internships in companies across the country. The programme targets 100,000 youths over a five-year period.
Given the coming general elections, the EU said it had put the youth and their role in democratic governance first, through programmes aimed at mobilizing Nigerian youth to register and vote in the elections.
In attendance were Nigeria’s former Minister of Education and ex-Vice President of the World Bank, Ms Obiageli Ezekwesili, who chairs The School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG.org) as a keynote speaker at the event.
Also present was the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Ms Folashade Adefisayo; the CEO of Teach for Nigeria, Ms Folawe Omikunle; CEO of Siemens Energy, Mr Seun Suleiman; and the CEO of Spie Nigeria, Mr Guillaume Niarfeix.
The statement further noted that the Eurocham member companies also have dedicated management trainees programmes; participate actively in the NYSC scheme, and globally impact thousands of young Nigerians through their in-house development programmes.