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Scaling up youth development through technical, vocational training 

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Joseph Ari

As youths are demanding more just, equitable and progressive opportunities and solutions, the need to address multifaceted challenges faced by young people have become evident and imperative.
 
These challenges include access to education, health, employment and gender equality.
 
Experts are of the view that youth could be a positive force for development when provided with the knowledge and opportunities they need to thrive. 
 
Statistics show that presently, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population.
 
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By 2030—the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the 2030 Agenda—the number of youth is projected to grow by seven per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion.
 
Findings show that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the job market more challenging for youths. 
 
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports that in the first quarter of 2020, about 5.4 per cent of global working hours, that is equivalent to 155 million full-time jobs were lost, relative to the fourth quarter of 2019, while about 8.8 per cent of work hours were lost in 2020, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs. 
 
Similarly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that the world economy contracted by 3.3 per cent in 2020 and warned that the recovery expected in 2021 – with a 6.0 growth rate – remains highly uncertain. 
  
Recent estimates suggest that 600 million jobs would have to be created over the next 15 years to meet youth employment needs.
 
However, the proportion of young people not in employment, education or training (the youth NEET rate) has remained very high over the past 15 years and now stands at 30 per cent for young women and 13 per cent for young men globally.
 
To address this, experts said that there was the need to scale up youth development through Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TVET).
 
Respondents to a survey of TVET institutions jointly collected by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the ILO and the World Bank reported that distance training has become the most common way of imparting skills, with considerable difficulties regarding, among others, curricula adaptation, trainee and trainer preparedness, connectivity, or assessment and certification processes.
 
At this year’s World Youth Skills Day 2021, which focused on the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship, the situation of young people regarding skills and work was assessed.
 
The TVET stakeholders deliberated on how they could collaborate to scale up skills development and help reconcile the short-term need for economic recovery and sustainable development.
 
They maintained that governments, employers and workers all have a stake in skills development.  
 
According to them, governments need to adopt more relevant skills policies to develop the skills required by rapidly evolving labour markets.
 
They argued that education and training systems would also need to take advantage of new educational technologies and give greater attention to digital skills.
 
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For them, enterprises and employers would need to make new investments to expand their involvement in educating, training and the reskilling of workers to support economic growth.
 
Also, workers would need to proactively upgrade their skills or acquire new ones through training, education and lifelong learning to remain employable.
 
Secretary-General, United Nations (UN), António Guterres, while commemorating the day said that young people are on the frontlines of the struggle to build a better future for all, stating that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the dire need for the kind of transformational change they seek – and young people must be full partners in that effort.
 
In Nigeria, while commemorating the day in Abuja, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Nebolisa Anako, said the theme of the 2021 WYSD, ‘Reimagining Youth Skills Post- Pandemic,’ recognised the significance of skills acquisition to enhance the employability of the youth and the ability to make life and work choices and access to changing labour market.
 
Represented by the Director, Enterprise Development and Promotion Department of the Ministry, he urged all stakeholders to join hands to harness the potential of Nigerian youths for socio-economic development.
 
Already, youth unemployment in Nigeria has been a growing concern, which has led to an increased rate of violent crimes, kidnapping, restiveness and social delinquent behaviours.
 
The challenge of unemployment, job creation and skills for jobs is likely to become accentuated as the population increases and more youths exit school.
 
Director-General and Chief Executive, Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Joseph Ari, had said that if Nigeria must at the shortest possible time fast-track its development trajectory, concerted efforts must be given to technical skills development, which lays the foundation for national development, economic diversification and growth.
 
He said the transformation going on in emerging economies and developed countries of the world could be traced to deliberate policies and support for youth empowerment, technical and vocational skills.
 
He argued that as a way out of the impending national crisis, quality TVET was widely recognised to have an important role to play in tackling youth unemployment.
 
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President of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Taiwo Adeniyi, at a graduation ceremony of maiden batch of Industrial Training Fund (ITF)-NECA Technical Skills Development Project (TSDP) trainees recently, submitted that with more deliberate actions by stakeholders towards ensuring Nigerian youths become equipped with skills, they become better positioned to find decent jobs or become entrepreneurs.  
 
He said the body would continue to call for action by the government and all stakeholders to urgently come together, invest and build the frameworks and sustainable models that would enormously impact the youths of the country. 
 
Noting that the world of work and the business environment is evolving, he said the evolution brings forth opportunities for youths with the right skills, to work, grow and contribute to themselves, the standard of living of their families and the society. 
 
While restating the association’s commitment to youth empowerment through technical skill development, he charged Nigerian youths to be determined and be equipped with technical and vocational skills for national development.
 
As a way out of the impending national and global crisis, he added that quality TVET is widely recognised as having an important role to play in tackling youth unemployment and underemployment. 
  
The Guardian gathered that TVET is expected to address the multiple demands of an economic, social and environmental nature by helping youth and adults develop the skills they need for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship, promoting equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and supporting transitions to green economies and environmental sustainability.
 
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