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Youth Empowerment in Nigeria.

Employment is a very important element in a high population country like Nigeria. The goal to attain employment opportunities is an important one in many developing nations like Nigeria where unemployment and underemployment are a major factor that causes poverty. However, despite all the campaigns during an election with all the promises of politicians in many poor nations of the world, the achievement of strong economic growth and decent employment remains a mirage. A high unemployment rate, unimpressive growth rates, and abject poverty among other miseries of the populace, are living with us most especially among the youth. Omitogun & Longe (2015) opined that an unemployment rate is one of the challenges currently facing Nigeria in this 21st century. The unemployment issue is one of the macro-economic problems of a nation. The unemployment issue in Nigeria is highly different compared to other nations of the world. This is a result of a high level of mismanagement of public funds, corruption among others over the years. ”Unemployment refers to the share of the labor force that is without work but available for and seeking employment (World Bank, 2019)”. Unemployment is a situation where a person is not able to find a job but would like to have a full-time job for a living. It’s an important matter during all times, and for all countries around the World.

A greater percentage of Nigerian youths are either unemployed, unemployable, or underemployed. This is in most cases because they lack the requisite skills needed to effectively function in the job they desire which is in turn, based on the fact that they have received insufficient, wrong, or no training at all. Often, over-dependence on white-collar jobs and government employment adds to the growing number of unemployed youths in the county. This essay presents a ready explanation of the current state of unemployment among Nigerian youths; its causes and effects provide mechanisms that can aid in reducing youth unemployment to the barest minimum while singling out self-employment as an imperative that is capable of exploding and expanding the employment opportunities for the youth. There is no problem without a cause, and the issue of unemployment is not an exception in this regard. There is consensus as to the causes of unemployment in a developing country like Nigeria. This hydra-headed problem of unemployment among Nigeria youths has been caused by many factors; immediate and remote. The high rate of unemployment among graduates is traceable to the educational system. It is a general view that the citadels of learning do little or nothing to prepare their graduates moving into the labor market with the prerequisite skills and knowledge to meet the requirements of the society. The youths are trained on how to be job seekers and not job creators. They are not taught adequate entrepreneurial skills that will enhance self-employment. The recent global financial crisis that has crippled businesses and the prospect of securing jobs for young people compounds the Nigerian situation. Other factors include a wrong impression of vocational studies, the absence of a stable socio-political atmosphere where business can thrive, and the neglect of the agricultural sector.

Nigerian youths have recently been targeted and a lot of resources are committed to their training and empowerment in various entrepreneurship by the Nigerian government through its various agencies, World Bank, and even non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Government through the CBN initiated and supported Entrepreneurship Development Centres (EDCs), launched the Microfinance Policy, Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for Nigeria, introduced between 2006 and 2008 the NYSC sensitization, Venture Prize Competition, and NYSC Entrepreneurship Training Programmes, among others, to help empower the youths and diversify the economy. It has also indulged in some programs such as Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN!), Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria (YISA), Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Program (SURE-P), Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), Africa Youth Empowerment Nigeria (AYEN), Youth Entrepreneur Support Program (YES-P), and N-Power Empowerment Program. Some NGOs and private-sector philanthropists have committed some resources too. Examples include Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI), Diamond-Crest for Youth Education Foundation, Tony Elumelu Foundation for Entrepreneurship in Africa, New Era Foundation, Youth for Technology Foundation, LEAP Africa, among others.

All these were done to enhance the creation of jobs, reduction of poverty, generation of income both to individuals and government thereby bringing about economic diversification which will help reduce overdependence on government and oil revenue, hence leading to economic growth and development. Issues relating to youth empowerment for self-reliance have become very crucial in the economic advancement of most developing nations. The economic growth between the developed and less developed nations has become more evident in recent times based on youth continuous support and involvement in Small and Medium Enterprises in the developed nations as compared to less developed and developing nations. This hence creates a gap between SMEs outputs in the two instances. In bridging this gap, many less developed countries of the world have adopted different policy measures.
As obvious as it is that entrepreneurship is the magic wand that can change the story over time, yet government’s inability to provide an enabling environment, infrastructure, investment policies, and education advance has made this journey a difficult one. However, many scholars, commentators, and observers have argued that lack of capital is what drives very many people who are unemployed and wants to be self-reliant and self-employed hence inadequate access to loan schemes coupled with the issue of collateral and high-interest rate on loan from financial institutions, and others arguing that the problem is lack of managerial prowess and the zeal and will to take risks. Therefore government and policymakers must ensure that all the policy programs aimed at stimulating entrepreneurial activity avoid being hijacked by politicians to enrich themselves, but rather the Nigerian youth and the country as a whole. Finally, sustained education and enlightenment programs on the opportunities that abound in the environment should be put in place. If the Nigerian government must revitalize its economy, reduce unemployment progressively, and generate more employment opportunities, a paradigm shift in policy that is critical to effective entrepreneurship development becomes consequential.

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. The Nigeria government should ensure that periodic seminars and workshops are organized in the local government whereby the youths will be empowered either monetarily or through other means like dispensing equipment to start up with the skills they must have acquired.

2. The government should also ensure that there is a steady supply of electricity to aid the youths as well as other investors to perform efficiently and effectively in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

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