Solving the Nigeria Employment Challenge: A Nigerian Youth Perspective

“If the youth employment policies in Nigeria can support initiatives that create active collaboration amongst Nigeria youth, then we can be certain of effective and efficient interventions and sustainable outcomes to tackle the national employment crisis in Nigeria.” – Tracy Iyemene Uzoigwe.

 It is no new news that the emergence of COVID-19 has changed the economic and business landscape due to its impact on national and sub-national economies, large corporations, MSMEs, and jobs globally. Just like every other country, Nigeria is still struggling with the aftermath of the pandemic ranging from disruption of economic activities, the collapse of trades, interruption of value chains, sharp decline of stock market prices, collapse of remittances of migrants, and rise in unemployment in Nigeria. Currently, the unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 33.30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 from 27.10 percent in the second quarter of 2020, with youth unemployment at 53.40 percent (National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria).

The issues around these alarming figures were addressed during the National Conference on Employment Promotion held on the 12th – 13th October 2021 an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment supported by all projects contributing to the “Returning to New Opportunities” programme implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Nigeria; Skills Development for Youth Employment (SKYE), Pro-Poor Growth and Promotion of Employment in Nigeria (SEDIN) and Programme Migration for Development (PME), and the International Labour Organisation(ILO).

During the course of the event, conversations were held around the labour market situation in Nigeria, the policy framework for sustainable employment promotion post-COVID-19, policy and strategy responses on employment promotion, the implications of COVID-19 on migration, and reintegration measures in Nigeria, best practices, experiences and strategies in employment promotion, labour market and reintegration issues, how to improve the provision of labour market information and services in Nigeria and more.

From these conversations, some best practices from the various speakers were to improve communications in dialogue forums for priority issues around employment promotion, labour market, migration, and reintegration in the context of COVID-19. Suggestions were also made as regards priority actions to existing policies and interventions to strengthen the provision of up-to-date, comprehensive, and reliable labour market information and services as well as support the building of synergy amongst producers in the labour market. There were also strategies on how to better review National Employment Policy (NEP).

However, from the perspective of the Nigerian youth, the youth employment crisis in Nigeria can best be tackled by the indigent group of people who are most affected by this national plague. Hence, the existing policies and new policies around the national employment crisis should involve active youth collaboration both in the formation and implementation of these policies to improve the current level of unemployment and the access to decent work by young Nigerians.

In September 2021, the Federal Government launched the Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan (NIYEAP), a policy document to guide how to support her young people with respect to education, employment, entrepreneurship, equality and rights. The NIYEAP which is effective from 2021 to 2024 is the government’s response to supporting the decent work aspirations of young Nigerians in the light of COVID19. The action plan is poised to create about 3.9 million jobs over the next three years, emphasising agriculture, digital technology, and services.