Webinar Report: Opportunities for Young People in the Face of COVID19 Pandemic

With the current reality of the high rate of unemployment, worsened by the economic impact of the pandemic, especially among youths in Nigeria, judging from the recently published data by the National Bureau of Statistics NBS, which reported that Nigeria’s unemployment rate as at the second quarter of 2020 is 27.1% indicating that about 21,764,614 (21.7 million) Nigerians remain unemployed. The unemployment rate among young people (15-34years) was 34.9%, up from 29.7%, while the rate of underemployment for young people of this age group rose to 28.2% from 25.7% in the third quarter of 2018. These rates were the highest when compared to other age groupings and how important and timely the Webinar organized by Development Research and Project Centre (dRPC) on the 26th, August 2020 is, which Nigeria Youth SDGs Network was part of the panel discussion on Opportunities for Youth Employment in the face of the current pandemic.

The webinar was moderated by Aisha Hashim and key stakeholders in the Education, Young People Development and Employment sectors were ably represented, which are; Goodness Ogeyi Odey State Coordinator NG Youth SDGs Network, Cross River State, Prof. Ismail Junaidu The Executive Secretary, Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council NERDC, Ekpemi Ekhabafe The Project Officer, International Labour Organization, Ife Adebayo Special Assistant to the Vice President of Nigeria on Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Dr Ghazali Ado Jubril Chief lecturer, Department of Banking and Finance, Kano State Polytechnic.

The discussion began with Ife Adebayo emphasizing the need for investment in young people by providing them with the opportunities to build the right kind of skills relevant to solving 21st-century problems. He said “Young people and the government need to focus on skills that will provide the opportunities for financial inclusion, healthcare, and technological advancement." He also advised young people to take up volunteering and internship opportunities in their course of building these skills, which will be useful in getting their desired jobs.

Goodness Odey brought to light the economic realities the pandemic has had on young people, through the loss of jobs, low business productivity, in general, COVID-1the 9 pandemic has negatively impacted young people more, as it affected youth mental health, salaries and some had their education paused, but she also shared the positive actions taken by young people in the midst of the pandemic through the #COVIDPositiveStories curated by NG Youth SDGs Network, which despite that the palliative from the government did not get to most youth because of the large population of Nigeria, however, young people also rose up to the challenge through #COVIDPositiveStories around Nigeria.

Prof. Ismail Junaidu shared some of the challenges the educational sector is currently facing and the need for innovations in Nigeria educational system to match the skills needed to fit into the future of work, sharing the work done at NERDC where they are ensuring young people, especially from those in secondary school, are equipped with relevant vocational skills. He also called for the need to do more in terms of expanding the work and equipping teachers and schools with resources to produce more skilled young people who are solution providers in their community.

Dr Ghazali Ado Jubril delves into the impact of the pandemic on entrepreneurs particularly young people in this sector. He encouraged them to innovate in the face of the realities of the new normal and develop core soft and hard skills in entrepreneurship development such as Digital literacy, resilience, and cognitive development. He also highlighted one sector that was and is still thriving in the midst of the pandemic which is the Agricultural sector and advised young people to profitably engage in the various aspects of business in Agriculture.

Ekpemi Ekhabafe stated the ILO Mandate and stand on the need to end Gender-Based Violence in the workplace, especially for young economically active girls and women in public spaces. She encouraged local member states to adopt legislation and policies that gender-based violence for applicants, especially discriminatory policies that women in an economically disadvantaged position.

The Webinar was wrapped up with responses to questions from participants that were a part of the discussion and they were charged to keep being relevant in the face of the realities of the new normal by practising some of the strategies and ideas shared.

You can watch the webinar recordings here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xYQgiHbIfw