DG NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi with NYSC DG, Brig Gen YD Ahmed,
DG NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi with NYSC DG, Brig Gen YD Ahmed,

That NITDA/NYSC Model for Youth Empowerments
By Shuaib S. Agaka

Nigeria’s youth unemployment crisis is one of the most pressing issues facing the nation today. According to recent statistics, more than half of the country’s youth population is unemployed or underemployed. This high unemployment rate is not only a waste of human potential but also a significant barrier to the country’s development. The lack of job opportunities for young people has far-reaching consequences, including increased poverty, social unrest, and economic stagnation.

It is against this background that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), collaborate to provide digital training for 30 million young people, aimed at tackling the pressing issue of youth unemployment and mitigate potential challenges that might arise from it.

The partnership between NITDA and NYSC is centered towards addressing the digital skills gap by training Nigerians in various digital competencies. This ambitious initiative is designed to equip youth with the skills needed to thrive in the digital economy and reduce the high rate of youth unemployment. By leveraging the nationwide reach of NYSC and the technical expertise of NITDA, this program has the potential to make a significant impact on the job market and the economy.

Meanwhile, several factors contribute to the high rate of youth unemployment in Nigeria. One of the primary causes is the mismatch between the skills taught in schools and the demands of the job market. Many young Nigerians graduate with degrees that do not equip them with the practical skills needed by employers. Additionally, the education system often needs to provide students with the technical and digital skills necessary for the modern workforce.

The impact of youth unemployment is profound, affecting both individuals and society at large. For youth, unemployment can lead to a sense of hopelessness and frustration, reducing their motivation and potential to contribute positively to society. On a broader scale, high youth unemployment can result in increased crime rates, social instability, and a loss of faith in government and institutions. The economic consequences are also severe, as a large segment of the population remains unproductive, slowing down overall economic growth and development.

The primary goal of the NITDA-NYSC partnership is to provide comprehensive digital skills training to young Nigerians. This includes not only basic digital literacy but also advanced skills such as coding, data analysis, cybersecurity, and digital marketing. The program aims to reach young people across the country, including those in rural and underserved areas, to ensure that no one is left behind. By providing training that is relevant to the current job market, the program hopes to enhance the employability of Nigerian youth.

This grand move by NITDA can be aptly described as a “checkmate move” for three key reasons:

Given that participation in the NYSC program is mandatory for all graduates in Nigeria, and since acquiring digital skills has become a key component of the NYSC training, it implies that all graduates will possess digital competencies before entering the job market. This integration ensures that every young Nigerian entering the workforce is equipped with essential digital skills, significantly enhancing their employability and readiness to meet the demands of the modern economy.

Secondly, in a country that produces approximately 600,000 graduates annually, it is imperative to equip them with skills that are not only in demand locally but also sought after on a global scale. Digital skills provide the solution because they encompass a wide range of competencies, including coding, digital marketing, data analysis, graphic design, cybersecurity, and more.

These skills are increasingly in demand across various sectors, from technology and finance to healthcare and creative industries. As businesses and organizations continue to digitize their operations, the need for employees who possess digital skills will continue to grow exponentially. By acquiring these skills, youth can significantly enhance their employability and career prospects both locally and globally.

Lastly, Digital skills are instrumental in fostering entrepreneurship, providing youth with the tools and knowledge needed to start and grow their businesses. With the right training, they can leverage digital platforms and technologies to launch ventures that span a wide range of industries, from e-commerce to tech startups.

Digital skills foster a culture of innovation and problem-solving. Youth can use technology to identify and address local challenges, creating businesses that not only generate profit but also contribute to community development. For example, tech startups focusing on fintech, health tech, or edutech can provide solutions to financial inclusion, healthcare access, and educational gaps, respectively.

However, to achieve these heart-suiting outcomes, several key strategies should be adopted;

To be effective, quality training must be delivered. Investing in the professional development of trainers and ensuring they are well-versed in the latest technologies and teaching methodologies is essential. Also, the training programs should emphasize practical, hands-on experience. This can be achieved through project-based learning, internships, and real-world simulations that allow participants to apply their skills in practical settings.

Additionally, since a large portion of corp members are usually posted to rural areas, access to technology and internet connectivity is crucial, without that many will find it difficult to participate in the transformative training programs. This digital divide must be addressed to ensure that the program reaches all segments of the population.

Moreso, implementing robust monitoring and evaluation frameworks can help track the effectiveness of training programs and identify areas for improvement. Regular feedback from participants and trainers should be collected and analyzed regularly.

It should also, be noted that the digital landscape is constantly evolving. Training programs must be agile and adaptable, incorporating new technologies and methodologies as they emerge. Continuous professional development for trainers and curriculum updates are essential.

Ultimately, the potential of digital skills to transform the lives of youth and reduce unemployment is immense. We must seize this opportunity with determination and collective effort. Together, we can create a robust support system that empowers Nigeria’s youth, reduces unemployment, and fosters sustainable economic growth.

Shuaib S. Agaka, a tech journalist writes from Kano

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