Youth employment remains one of the defining challenges of our time, not just in Nigeria, but across West Africa and beyond. Addressing youth employment means finding solutions with and for young people who are seeking a decent and productive job, are working but living in poverty or are discouraged by current labour market prospects. Such solutions should address both labour supply (through education, skills development and training) and labour demand (through job creation and an enabling environment for entrepreneurship), as well as the quality of work available for young people (including with regard to labour standards, working conditions and wages).
The labour market situation of young people in Nigeria is also affected by developments that go beyond national borders, such as population growth, climate change, migration, innovation and automation, and which call for bold and urgent action by all relevant stakeholders. More recently, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to contain it have put additional strain on the economy, the labour market and the employment prospects of young people.
Education, vocational training, skills development and work experience are essential to enhance the employability of young people. Employability results from several factors – a foundation of core skills, access to education, availability of training opportunities, motivation, ability and support to take advantage of opportunities for continuous learning, and recognition of acquired skills – and is critical for enabling workers to attain decent work and manage change and for enabling enterprises to adopt new technologies and enter new markets. There is a need to promote skills development in economic sectors with high job creation potential for young people, and to expand educational opportunities at all levels and ensure that graduates are equipped with skills and competencies sought after by the labour market.