The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) has on November 30 2021 successfully organized the first Meaningful Youth Participation Event in partnership with the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Lagos, Nigeria. The event was an initiative under the Dutch Youth Employment Strategy (YES!) in Nigeria. The YES! coalition is a collaboration between Dutch funded programmes in Nigeria, The Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Consulate General of The Netherlands in Lagos, aiming to promote youth employment and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
Meaningful Youth Participation is a key pillar of the Dutch Youth at Heart Policy and for the YES! in specific. Therefore, the Meaningful Youth Participation event has been developed by the Youth Champions of the CFYE. The idea is to provide a seat at the decision-making table to Nigerian youths, to leverage on their valuable ideas and understanding of the challenges they face. During the event Nigerian youths and decision makers in the private sector, public sector and knowledge institutes have engaged in discussions to co-create innovative solutions, addressing the most urgent challenges of youth employment in the Digital Economy in Nigeria.
Over 70 people attended, and the event was received with a lot of enthusiasm by the audience. After opening remarks by Michel Deelen, the Consul General of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Lagos and Tijmen Rooseboom, the Dutch Ambassador for Youth, Education and Work (via a video message), Nneka Enwonwu, the Nigeria Country Manager for the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment and its Youth Champs took the stage. The Youth Champions presented their research on how young people in Nigeria experience employment opportunities and challenges. The report highlights four overarching recommendations that youths feel are critical to support the youths getting into meaningful employment in Nigeria and they include:
· Provision of funding for young entrepreneurs will both reduce unemployment and allow youths to develop into the job market in their own way;
· Current youth employment policies need to be reviewed focusing on how these policies can support youth into meaningful employment and on how to implement these policies;
· School curricula need to be overhauled to ensure digital skill proficiency and competency;
· Government policies need to provide an enabling environment for (new) business growth.
During the panel discussion youth representatives and representatives from the public, private and knowledge sector proffered solutions on how to facilitate access to digital jobs for Nigerian youths. The following panelists participated:
· Christian Kaelin, Head of Employability, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund;
· Kehinde Ayanleye, CEO/ Co-Founder, Stutern;
· Debo Odunlami, Head of Academic Affairs & Career Services for The Nigerian University of Technology and Management (NUTM);
· Tolani Adeboye, Youth Representative;
· Lancelot Ejike Ogba, Youth Representative;
· Richard Dambo, CFYE Youth Champion.
According to Nneka Enwonwu, Country Relationship Manager, Challenge Fund for Youth Employment
The feedback and results from the event will feed into the second call of the CFYE in Nigeria in 2022 and the YES!. Moreover, the Consul General of The Netherlands promised to lead by example by establishing a Youth Advisory Council to advice on Dutch policies and programmes in Nigeria.
CFYE aims to create a prosperous future for 200.000 young women and men in Africa and the Middle East. The fund will achieve this by investing in private sector entities that provide youth with decent work, stable income and deliver prospects for personal and professional development. CFYE supports entities with creating new jobs, matching young people’s skills with their existing jobs, or improving the conditions and the quality of work for the already employed youth.