April, 19 2023.
_Ministry, NIPSS To Partner On Youth Engagement & Youth Data Bank_
The National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) says youth bulge challenge in the country is an existential threat that must be addressed headlong through collaborative effort with relevant Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the private sector and the institute.
Speaking during a courtesy call on the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare on Tuesday, the NIPSS DG, Prof. Ayo Omotayo asserted that demographics reveal that about 40% of the nation's population are youth below 40, emphasising that solving the youth bulge problem will translate to addressing unemployment, stemming the tide of poverty right from the source, tackling vices like banditry, kidnapping and other forms of criminality.
"We know that the Youth and Sports Development Ministry is in charge of youth matters. We are here to seek collaboration with the Ministry in what we identify as a major challenge of Nigeria. That is why we want to have an engagement with a cross-section of Nigerian Youth, so that before they ask us, we can devise ways and means to solve their problems before they again take to the streets in frustration, and the youth Ministry has a major role to play", Prof. Omotayo stated.
Expatiating on what NIPSS has done so far, the DG stated the institute has carried out some studies and developed curricular that can change a lot of things.
"We are saying the time has come to bring a cross-section together, and let us engage with them, let us talk to them, let us know exactly what their problems are. Most of them don't understand even the history of Nigeria, and don't understand why they can't find jobs".
"Like i mentioned to the Minister when we had our executive session, I said we have also spoken to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Employers Consultative Assembly. We are going to engage Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that we keep our students in school, we engage with them after school, and get the right data so that we can be intentional in planning for our children and develop policy initiatives that will form a roadmap for their future", the NIPSS DG added.
In his response, the Minister welcomed the interest of NIPSS in collaborating with the Ministry, reiterating that youth bulge is the urgency of now. He raised concern that the resources available to government to provide opportunities, access to credit, up-skill prospective entrepreneurs can not match what is expected.
" So there is a problem of scale. Imagine you have 5 million youth applying for training, and the funds you have can only cater to 5,000. You can't really go out there and brag that you've trained because what do you do with the army of over 4m that have not benefitted? And that is the way it is. We have millions of our youth waiting to get on the path of entrepreneurship. "
" From our youth fund, the entire N75bn approved for three years by the President can only deliver for 1.5m Youth. So there is a challenge of scale and that is why I often say that the youth business is everybody's business and I am happy that NIPSS - a think-tank, has decided to place youth development at the top of its agenda and not leave it at the level of intellectual inquisition alone, but coming out to partner with the Ministry to see what we can do together ", Dare enthused.
The Minister, whilst lamenting that the relocation of manufacturing industries worsened the unemployment problem, he stated that the NIPSS and the Ministry have agreed to work together to reverse the trend.
Dare also emphasised the need to have a youth data bank that will include available skills/profession that can be matched with job openings, stated that the Ministry has been working with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on this, emphasizing with the collaboration with NIPSS, it will be fast-tracked.
The Minister agreed with NIPSS DG on continuous engagement with the youth, restating it is one of the lessons garnered from the End-SARS protests.
However, he posited that engagement should be with different identifiable strata of youth professionals cutting across diverse sectors of the economy.
" The Youth is not a monolith. We must look at the different strata of youth and then engage them. We must decipher if we are engaging youth in academics, students on campus, or youth in creative arts & entertainment. So when it is properly defined into groups, it will resonate, and we will achieve better results. The Ministry is ready to partner with NIPSS in this regard, "the Minister concluded.
On the NIPSS DG's entourage were Director of Research, Prof. Dung Pam Sha; Bursar, Alhaji Ahmed Bawa; Ag. Head of Human Resources, Ms. Kelechi Kalu, amongst others.