The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said that most youths in Nigeria were unemployed because they lacked functional skills.
Ngige said this while declaring open a one-day Trade, Job, Career, and Employability Fair, on Thursday in Abuja.
The fair was organised by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation with the theme “Promoting Employability, Skills Development, and Decent Work”.
Ngige, represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation, Mrs. Tilda Mmegwa, said that all stakeholders must be actively involved in preparing the African workforce for the ‘future of work’.
According to him, the Nigerian government is conscious of the fact that most of the unemployed are those without functional skills.
“Our strategy, therefore, is to equip the unemployed youths with market-driven skills, which will facilitate their access to self or paid employment.
“In recognition of this reality, my ministry is keenly committed to equipping unemployed graduates with entry point competencies to make them employable.
“I am, therefore, happy to inform you that my ministry is scheduled to train 37,000 unemployed graduates, 1,000 in each of the states of the federation and the FCT, on soft skills and marketable resumes.
“In the coming months, we will also train 3,500 unemployed youth in various vocations including fashion design, catering and event management, solar panel and CCTV installation, among others,’’ he said.
The minister said that each of the trainees would be empowered with starter packs to immediately venture into business.
He said that the initiatives showcased the commitment of the present administration to provide the young unemployed jobs seekers with the cutting-edge skills to start a self or paid employment.
The ILO Country Director, Ms. Vanessa Phala, noted that many jobs had been lost due to COVID-19 and that the rate of unemployment had continued to increase.
Phala said that there was no social protection, and called on the youths to ensure that they adapted to new knowledge that would make them gain employment.
Also, the NECA President, Mr. Taiwo Adeniyi, said that the fair was organised to enhance employability and to improve the chances of youths and job seekers getting employed.
Adeniyi, who was represented by the Director-General, Federation of Construction Industry, Mrs. Olubunmi Adekoje, said that to ensure maximum impact and a widespread, the fair would also be held at Port-Harcourt and Enugu.
He, therefore, commended the Ministry of Labour and Employment, and the ILO for their readiness in addressing unemployment challenges in the country.
Newsmen spoke with some of the participants who commended the organisers of the fair.
Participants, Nden Bolcit and Aforlayan Gabriel, said that they were privileged to be part of those who attended the fair.
The participants said the fair had given them the opportunity of one-on-one career counseling, and also, knowledge of job interviews.