By Bola Ojuola
Akure — As part of efforts aimed at ending the surging rate of unemployment in the Niger Delta region, the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) has launched the Niger Delta Youth Employment Pathways (NDYEP) projects which target agriculture, ICT and construction sectors.
In a statement issued to journalists in Akure, Ondo state, NDYEP’s project manager, Emeka Ile, said it was borne out of a study to identify pathways to youth employment in the region.
Ile noted that the study analysed Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states as pilot states, by seeking innovative ways of addressing the growing rate of youth unemployment and under-employment in the Niger Delta.
He added that PIND, with funding support from the Ford Foundation, had in collaboration with its technical partner, Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI), carried out the study between September 2017 and February 2018.
“Key findings from the study are being disseminated to stakeholders from government, academia, private sector players in agriculture, construction, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), renewable energy, and hospitality.
“PIND is implementing the NDYEP project in three (3) pilot states; Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states, with the goal to map the ecosystem of skills development, analyze opportunities for employment creation and to develop models of youth job-readiness or workforce development.
“These are to provide young men and women in the Niger Delta the opportunity to either commence business enterprises or secure sustainable jobs through quality training that prepares them with market-relevant skills.
“PIND’s study included a labour market assessment in the pilot states to understand the growth of each industry (ICT, Agriculture, Construction); the impact of each sector’s growth on employment; and how a youth employment programme could support and grow the labour force,” he said.
Ile stressed that the workshops will help focus investments in critical economic sectors that support sustainable pathways for youth employment and active economic engagement.
“In its initial findings, PIND indicated that stakeholder interviews and youth focus group meetings held so far suggest that residents of the three states are widening their ideas and perspectives on employment beyond seeking government or paid jobs.
“Technology entrepreneurship is increasingly perceived as a viable career pathway, and more people are venturing into entrepreneurial activities by creating micro and small enterprises.
“This dissemination workshop is therefore to share these results with critical stakeholders and policy makers, unveil interventions that the NDYEP project will implement for youth and engage with stakeholders to build a stronger ecosystem for youth development in each state,” the statement added.
Ile further said that “beyond fast-tracking development of the region, youth employment is also critically linked to de-escalation of conflict in the Niger Delta.
“We want to see more young people sustainably employed in the agricultural, construction and ICT sectors because there are so many untapped opportunities in these sectors that can rapidly turn around the narrative of the region.”