World Youth Skill Day: United Nations calls for Increased Youth Empowerment

In April 2018, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari gave a speech where he described Nigerian youths as “lazy,” sparking a social media revolt from both the young and old citizens of the country.

The statement implied that young people in the country were not actively engaged in political affairs, suggesting that they would rather be jobless than be beneficial to society.

It is evident that in every growing society, the youths have an essential role to play in the growth and development of society, as they are often referred to as the leaders of tomorrow.

In a bid to avert a crisis and emphasize the importance of skill development for young people, the United Nations General Assembly established the World Youth Skill Day, to be commemorated on the 15th of July, annually.

In the year 2015, the United Nations estimated that 74.5 million youths worldwide were unemployed, especially in developing countries. “Surveys are showing low levels of achievement in basic literacy, numeracy, and digital skills among younger generations,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi. “If we really want to turn the 2030 Agenda into reality, our work has to start from the world’s youth.”

In Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics reported that the unemployment rate in Nigeria had increased to 23.10 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, from 22.70 per cent in the second quarter of 2018. Unemployment Rate in Nigeria averaged 12.31 per cent from 2006 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 23.10 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 and a record low of 5.10 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

An idle man is the Devil’s workshop. A high majority of individuals who engage themselves in crime are unemployed or underemployed and are living in abject poverty. The link between crime and unemployment rates shows that when people have a legal source of income, they refrain from engaging in criminal activities.

To avoid this, the United Nations Organization (UN) has called on various countries to provide basic training, enlightenment, and encouragement for the youths and how they can be of value to themselves and the society at large. Through this, young people are expected to develop life skills which can improve their prospects for employment.

However, many youths in Nigeria do not completely believe in skill acquisition. They have established the mindset that once they are over and done with their universities and obtained their various degrees, they graduate and then look for a white-collar job.

But what then happens if one can’t find a white-collar job on time? What next?

That is why the government authorities ought to address and encourage the youth on the advantages of taking up these skills. One can be self-employed! Engaging in businesses where one is the sole proprietor.

We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends” – Mary Mcleod Bethune

In Nigeria today, Various Organizations have been set up to promote skill acquisition. Organizations such as; YEN Skill Acquisition Program, Youth Empowerment and Skills Acquisition Program of the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company (KPRC), DEC Enugu Entrepreneurial Skills Acquisition Program, Dangote Academy, CVL Young Entrepreneurship Training Program (YETP), and so on. We cannot always build the future for our youth but we can build our youth for the future.

The celebration and commemoration of World Youth Skills Day in Nigeria helps more youths recognize their potential and inspire others to achieve their potential. On this day, the world unites to appreciate and encourage youths who make tremendous improvements to their communities and to the world.

Furthermore, the World Youth Skills day allows to build confidence in both communication skills and for group collaboration/ interaction as well as working well as part of a team; a stronger sense of partnership as respecting diversity allows creativity and imagination to flourish and develop a more tolerant society. It allows youths to develop a greater sense of self-awareness and appreciation for others as well as the ability to self-manage, solve problems and understand the business environment. Youths are now self-aware, knowing now that they have responsibility it helps their time management.

The government and the general republic are encouraged to perform their part to ensure that the future of the Nigerian youths remains bright, equal, safe and rewarding, allowing us to build better futures for all.

Happy International World Youth Skills Day!