Nigeria hosts Global Youth Employment Forum

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja


Nigeria is hosting the first ever gathering of the World Youth Employment Forum GYEF to hold outside Geneva Switzerland.

The Forum opened in Abuja Nigeria on Thursday 1st of August 2019.

Organized by the International Labour Organisation ILO in conjunction with the Nigerian Government, the Forum brought together over two hundred youths and young people from across the globe to interact and share experiences for a better future.

The Forum which will run for three days is expected to come out with concrete road map on how to meet the employment needs of young people around the world.

According to the ILO, more than 200 young people from around the world are attending to discuss how to ensure more and better quality jobs for young people.

Youth Unemployment
Declaring the Summit open, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has called for collective global effort in fighting youth unemployment across the globe.

Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mr Boss Mustafa, President Buhari said that unless world leaders devise a way to get the high population of youths engaged in meaningful jobs, crime rates and restiveness will continue to thrive.

He said that the Nigeria places high regards on her youth who “are the future of the country,” saying that it is in recognition of this that the government is focusing more attention on youth empowerment by creating the enabling environment for job opportunities and capacity building.

“Human capacity development, implementation of dedicated programs and technical/financial support cannot be over-emphasized.

 “We are  grateful that the ILO has committed itself to Youth employment and the Future of Work in Africa with in-depth understanding of the rapidly changing demographics, the emerging World of Work and the challenges of natural economic stabilities”, President Buhari said.

He stated that his administration recognised the creative potentials of the youths and the need to sharpen their global competitive edge.

“To this end, the Central Bank of Nigeria has introduced the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) to improve access to long-term low-cost financing for entrepreneurs to invest in Nigeria”.

President Buhari also reiterated his call on the ILO to upgrade the ILO Office in Nigeria to a Decent Work Office to serve the English speaking African Countries.

Entrepreneurial Programmes
To address the issue of youth unemployment in Nigeria, the President disclosed that the government took deliberate steps to introduce some empowerment and entrepreneurial programmes which he said has lifted some 5.2 million people out of poverty.

The Director General, International Labour Organisation Mr. Guy Ryder, in his address, commended what he called the energy and vibrancy of Nigerians saying no society can think about the future of work without thinking about the youths.

“If asked what is the priority of any Ministry of Labour of any country, the answer is, generating work for young people, boosting quality education and a chance to do some decent jobs.

“255 million youths around the world are not in employment neither are engaged in any kind of economic venture or education,”  Ryder said.

He said that about 136 million youths who are in different kinds of employment are still very poor adding that Africa alone has 60 percent of its youths living in poverty.

“136 million young people are working, they are working extremely hard; yet they are still living in poverty.

“Whether we like it or not,  these are global realities and lets set these realities beside the goal the international community set itself when in 2015,  when it adopted the UNs 2030 agenda for sustainable development.’’  

Labour Potential
Earlier in a welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. William Alo, said a growing youth population can provide an important opportunity to expand the labour potential of any country.

According to him, investing in youth education closes the gender gaps in both labour markets and education.

Alo, further stated that the theme for 2019 GYEF “Today and Tomorrow with decent Jobs for Youth” was apt in the light of the persistent global youth employment challenges and the future of work initiative which the ILO has placed in the front burner of international discuss, adding that the future of the world needed rest within the youth who constitute the most productive segment of the global population.

In a goodwill message, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba said that global youth unemployment is a time bomb that needs to be addressed by all if the world was to live in peace.

Wealth Creation
Wabba said workers who create the wealth of the world deserve decent jobs which should be advanced by all, adding that it was a delight that the forum is coming now to address such issues in view of the current challenges especially in Africa.

He expressed the hope that the forum will address such challenges and make concrete recommendations that will address youth unemployment across the globe.

Also in a goodwill message, Director General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Timothy Olawale, lamented the fact that youths have become ready tools in the hands of insurgents, adding that most security challenges today is associated with unemployment.

He said that youth unemployment has been on an astronomical rise, stressing the efforts of the Nigerian government to deal with the situation.

According to Ch. Baljinnyam, a participant from Mongolia, from the Decent Work for Sustainable Future, National Youth Network of Mongolia, her optimism is that the Forum will to a large extent address a number of the issues faced by young people across the globe.

Ch. Baljinnyam, a participant from Mongolia in an interview with Helen Shok Jok of VON

She called for a network of the participants to continue to share experiences and idea on matters of common interest to them.

During three days of discussions the youth participants aim to agree on recommendations that will advance the ILO’s Resolution on ‘The youth employment crisis: A call for action” which was adopted at the International Labour Conference in June 2012.

The Resolution calls for immediate, targeted and renewed action to tackle the youth employment crisis.

The 2019 World Youth Employment Forum holding in Abuja, Nigeria is the first to hold outside Geneva, Switzerland, the Headquarters of the ILO.

The Forum will end on Saturday.