Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Are you among the 23 million youth? (Part 2) - Beyond gathering at conferences!

How can the alarming statistics of the 40 million unemployed youth be brought to naught? Is it possible to salvage the future of the 23 million youth categorized as unemployable? What are some of the qualities employers are looking out for in the workforce? According to the 2009 survey from CareerBuilder and Robert Half International, aside from having the basic job qualifications, other important qualities employers lookout for include the ability to multitask, ability to take initiative and creative thinking.

Interestingly, we all know the above listed characteristics are not things we pick up from our school curriculum. It has to be developed with time, but not in isolation. The way our education system is currently structured does not really encourage us to think outside the box. All our efforts are channeled towards a competitive stream of studying and passing exams. Hence, after University/College, graduates with impressive result are classified as unemployable.

Beyond the certificate, to be relevant in this competitive 21st century, we all need skills to augment our in-classroom knowledge. Young Nigerians need experiential learning to balance the classroom experience. Our academic curriculum must prepare the average Nigerian youth well enough to be able to graduate at any level (Primary, Secondary or University) with problem-solving skills (not just mathematics).

Teachers/Lecturers/Professors need to be less detached in encouraging students to be vocal in classrooms in order to build confidence. Educational institutions need to partner with the Corporate/Private sector to bridge the yawning gap that deters on-field training.

Young people in Nigeria should be encouraged to improve their research, communication, interpersonal relations and analytical skills and grow emotionally through active brainstorming/debate sessions and taking up challenging tasks both within and outside classroom settings. We cannot underestimate the importance of entrepreneurship and vocational studies- it needs to be more adapted into our curriculum.

Parents and other stakeholders- NGOS, religious leaders, etc. also have their role in providing constant support through mentoring. How can there be any motivation to invest in life-long learning and professional/personal growth if there is no mentor to show the way? As for the government, they need to put structures in place to revamp our education system.
The government must also work closely with other key players to ensure that as we ask more youths to become self-employed, there is room for them to receive initial start-up capital. These will not only equip Nigerian youths with the ability to multitask, take initiative and think creatively, it will also prepare youths to embrace self-employment towards economic and social sustainability.

(Pictures reflect the recent "Enough is Enough" Youth Rally)

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