A 34-year-old native of Oyo State in South-West Nigeria, Mustapha Fasasi, is brimming with enthusiasm about his recent accomplishment in mastering the art of solar panel installation for residences and small enterprises.
With a longstanding interest in solar and renewable energy, Mustapha wasted no time in enrolling for vocational skills training organized by the Alliance for Youth Nigeria as soon as he caught wind of it through a radio broadcast.
“The training proved to be an immensely rewarding journey for me. I’ve gained practical skills and knowledge that have equipped me to dive straight into solar panel installations and begin generating income to support both myself and my family. I’m eagerly looking ahead to continue developing personally until I reach expert status in this field,” he remarked.
Mustapha stands among the cohort of over 500 young individuals who have benefited from the vocational skills training held in Ibadan and Kano. Despite the immense potential that young people hold for fostering sustainable development, Nigeria contends with a disconcerting youth unemployment rate of 53.7%, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics. This underscores the urgency for innovative and hands-on interventions, including entrepreneurial education, to reverse this trajectory. The Alliance for Youth Nigeria has stepped up to address this pressing need, culminating in the recent completion of a vocational skills training initiative conducted in partnership with the Whitefield Foundation.
This comprehensive training, designed to furnish young people with the knowledge, skills, and self-assurance needed for self-sufficiency, spanned four distinct skill areas: solar panel installation, graphic design and social media management, beauty care encompassing makeup, aromatherapy, and massage, as well as web development and digital marketing. These skill sets were thoughtfully selected for their rapid entry into the market and their potential to make a substantial impact on the economy by swiftly opening avenues for decent income and improved livelihoods.
Launched in August 2021, the Alliance represents a collective endeavor of business-oriented organizations committed to collaborating in aiding young people across Nigeria in acquiring the essential proficiencies to excel in the world of work or to establish their own enterprises.
Among the Alliance for Youth Nigeria’s members are prominent entities like Nestlé Nigeria, Jobberman Nigeria, Big Bottling Company, the United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria, and U-Connect HR Limited. They partner with key organizations such as the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, and Activate Success International.
These member and partner organizations have taken up the mantle of equipping young Nigerians with both employability skills and the entrepreneurial mindset, enabling them to secure meaningful employment or launch their entrepreneurial ventures. Additionally, they have positioned themselves to invest in joint and individual projects that provide young Nigerians with valuable work experience, internships, readiness-for-work training, and mentorship opportunities. Their collective efforts are in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 8 and 17, which respectively aim to foster sustainable economic growth, productive employment, and strong partnerships for global progress.
Over the past couple of years, the Alliance has empowered more than 16,000 young individuals through a combination of employability and entrepreneurial training, internships, and mentorship opportunities, all aimed at preparing them for the dynamic world of work and business.
In commemoration of the 2023 International Youth Day and the Alliance’s second anniversary, standout achievers from the vocational skills training programs in Ibadan and Kano were presented with startup kits to hasten the launch of their enterprises. Participants who excelled in graphics design and digital marketing received laptops, those from the beauty, massage, and aromatherapy training were equipped with makeup tools and massage beds, while top performers in solar panel installation training were awarded comprehensive toolkits for their chosen vocation.
According to Ahmed Alaga, President of the Alliance and Program Manager Partnerships, Jobberman Nigeria, “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.”
In his comments, Vice President of the Alliance and Country HR Manager, Nestlé Nigeria PLC, Shakiru Lawal, 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 organizations 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.”
Reacting, the Secretary of the Alliance and Senior Manager, Participant Engagement & Programmes, UN Global Compact Nigeria Network, Tumi Onamade, said, “Today we stand united in celebration of two impactful years of collaborative youth empowerment. At the United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria, we recognize that scaling up action and investing in the youth not only creates economic opportunities but also helps businesses grow and stay sustainable, echoing SDG 8: Decent work and Economic Growth. To the beneficiaries of the start-up kits, you are now empowered with skills and equipped with tools, embrace this opportunity to turn your dreams into thriving realities. Your journey starts now! 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.”
In a statement, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Abubakar Ismail noted, “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. The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development 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. 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.”
Expressing his delight on behalf of his colleagues, Mustapha Fasisi said, “Thanks to the facilitators, the training is of huge benefit to us as it was very easy to understand and implement. We are deeply grateful to the Alliance for investing in upskilling young people and further awarding those of us who excelled at the training with start-up kits.
We promise to maximally deploy the skills and tools to commence our businesses”.
Mariya Ahmad Jibrin, who took part in the Kano training under the graphics design category, expressed her heartfelt appreciation to the Alliance. She credited the transformative training for endowing her with the skills to craft impactful designs. She also highlighted the laptop provided as part of her start-up kit, emphasizing its immeasurable value as a crucial pillar of support for her business venture.
The commitment of the Alliance for Youth Nigeria lies in the continual investment in enhancing the capabilities of young individuals. The goal is to equip them with appropriate skills and valuable experiences within our rapidly evolving world, paving the way for a more promising future.
Nigeria boasts one of the world’s most substantial youth populations, with 70% of its citizens under the age of 30.
This demographic presents a remarkable opportunity for both development and growth on a national scale.
Each year, on August 12th, the International Youth Day serves as a platform for governments, international and national entities, as well as other stakeholders, to bring attention to global youth-related matters.
The focus extends to areas such as health, education, and employment, all while celebrating the immense potential of young individuals as invaluable partners in today’s interconnected global community.
The central theme for this year’s commemoration is “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World.”