BY CHISOM NWATU
With Nigeria’s high unemployment rate, which has steadily worsened in recent times, and youth unemployment rate, which latest figures by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) estimate at 42 percent, efforts aimed at tackling this problem from the demand and supply sides brought stakeholders under one roof to chart a way forward with tailored solutions that will address the challenges for the collective success of youth, providers and managers of education, and the economy at large.
The launch of Youth of Enterprise (YoE) programme by EnterpriseNGR is aimed at giving Nigerian youths the green start to pursue their careers and connect them to the right job opportunities. The event, held virtually, with over 1,151 attendees, gathered industry experts and stakeholders to jaw-jaw on Nigerian youths’ lack of employability skills, which has remained one of the reasons for the high rate of unemployment in the country.
EnterpriseNGR, a professional advocacy group championing the transformation of Nigeria to be the premier financial services centre in Africa, said the YOE internship programme has been designed to improve the skill sets, professional competence, and employability of young graduates, noting that YOE participants will obtain invaluable work experience and networking opportunities that will position them for meaningful career journeys.
Obi Ibekwe, the chief executive officer, EnterpriseNGR, in her welcome address, said, “YOE is the Youth of Enterprise Internship Programme designed to address two major challenges that our young graduates face with employment, which are lack of employability skills and lack of access to guidance and information on career choices and opportunities. YOE has the goal of training and placing 5,000 interns annually and to build this number to 100,000 interns annually in 10 years. Daunting as this goal may sound, we at EnterpriseNGR believe it is achievable with the collaborative effort of not just the Financial and Professional Services sector but of all the sectors of the economy. YOE is open to partnering organisations in all sectors of the economy and will supply interns suitable for all sectors.”
Ibekwe said one of the priorities of EnterpriseNGR is encouraging innovation and digitization in the Financial and Professional Services sector, adding that with YOE, EnterpriseNGR was practising what it preaches.
According to her, “Leveraging the learnings from the devastating covid era of how technology transformed education and workplace culture, we built a bespoke technology platform that enables us to make YOE’s recruitment, screening processes and training programme virtual and, therefore, accessible to Nigerian youth in every part of Nigeria. Our Youth of Enterprise will come to employers already equipped with the digital and employability skills necessary for excelling in today’s workplace,” she said.
Aigboje Aig Imoukhuede, chairman, EnterpriseNGR, addressing participants in the virtual event, said, “We are building a new narrative of a better Nigeria and an approach toward a strengthened economy. We are confident that our private sector expertise combined with the support of our member firms, stakeholders, employers of labour and international donors will make the YOE programme a success.”
Sonnie Ayere, chief executive officer, DLM Capital, and a founding member of EnterpriseNGR, in his closing remarks said, “the programme is designed to empower Nigerian youths with employability skills and place them in internships to garner valuable workplace experience that will set them on the path of success in their careers. While this initial effort will focus on graduates, ultimately the programme will expand the opportunity to include undergraduates, to expose youth to workplace experience early in their formation.
“EnterpriseNGR has developed a custom-built technology platform to power the recruitment, online training and matching of interns to employers. Employers will also have access to the portal to state their internship requirements, including the number of interns required, job roles on offer, preferred pass marks on the aptitude tests, and other criteria for employers to select from. We are confident that YOE will achieve its objectives given the pedigree of our current partner organisations and the quality of interns we seek to attract,” Ayere added.
Meanwhile, EnterpriseNGR, which was unveiled in October 2021, has grown its member base with top organisations in the financial and professional services (FPS) sector. The YOE Internship Programme is a paid six-month programme that offers Nigerian youth the perfect opportunity to re-invent themselves and “GREENSTART” their careers.
Some of the partnering financial and professional services institutions include Aluko & Oyebode, Chapel Hill Denham, Coronation Merchant Bank Ltd., FBNQuest Ltd., FMDQ Group, NGX Group, Tengen Family Office, PWC Nigeria, Templars, Central Securities Clearing System Plc (CSCS), Access Bank Plc., DLM Capital Ltd., Investment One Financial Services Ltd., Custodian Investment Plc., and Tangerine General Insurance Limited.
In the short time too, it has garnered international attention as an FPS advocacy group in Nigeria and is currently recognized as an observer with the World Alliance of International Financial Centres (WAIFC).
Other personalities at the virtual event include Bolaji Balogun, chief executive officer, Chapel Hill Denham; Juliet Anammah, chairwoman and group chief sustainability officer, Jumia; Uche Orji, chief executive officer, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA); Bola Adesola, chairman, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund; Oghogho Akpata, managing partner and head, energy and projects group, Templars Law; Abba Bello, managing director, NEXIM; Kofo Arowolo, chief executive officer, Woven Finance; Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, managing partner, Compliance Professionals PLC; Nneka Enwereji, executive director, Citibank.