In Nigeria young people are particularly affected by underemployment; Nigerian Bureau of Statistics’ working hours data highlights that the youth underemployment rate in Nigeria is extremely high (11.8 percent for young men and 15.9 percent for young women), compared with other countries in the OECD (3.9 percent for young men and 6.1 percent for young women). In its latest labour statistics for the first quarter of 2015 released recently, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stated that unemployment rate had increased from 6.4 per cent at the end of the fourth quarter of 2014, to 7.5 per cent. The increase in the number of the unemployed by 861,110 persons or 18.43 per cent between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 was responsible for the increase in the unemployment rate, according to the NBS. The NBS further stated that in the first three months of 2015, the labour force population increased to 73.4 million from 72.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, representing 0.69 per cent increase, adding that the implication was that 504,596 economically active persons within the age bracket of 16 to 24 entered the labour market.
The NYSC scheme was created in 1973 with the aim of reconciling and rebuilding the country after the Nigerian Civil war. Currently, it is also seen as a response to problems of un/underemployment and the shortage of skilled persons. In 2012, the NYSC launched a nationwide initiative, the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) project, with the mission to facilitate access to requisite skills and resources necessary for successful entrepreneurship. The SAED program is targeted at young Nigerian graduates deployed for the one-year mandatory service and was designed to be implemented during the required camping exercises (in–camp) and throughout the service year (post-camp). Corps members will be encouraged to learn in-demand industry skills, position themselves to become value creators, and leverage career and business start-up opportunities.
The SAED program supports the Federal Government’s aim to catalyse economic transformation through promotion of entrepreneurship and self-reliance, particularly among youth.
While corps members are encouraged to start business in any field of their liking, SAED program places emphasis on twelve vocational skill sectors, including within the agri-food sector, tourism, construction, information and communications technology, education.
NYSC-SAED identifies inadequate number of resource persons, poor funding, and lack of accessibility to loan facilities as some of its challenges. There is the further challenge of lack of follow-up with trained beneficiaries to provide post-training support for their businesses.
In 2014, the SAED scheme trained a total of 159,732 corps members, made up of 69,904 females and 89, 828 males. Over 500, 000corps members have been trained under the NYSC-SAED program since its inception. Out of the total number of trained entrepreneurs, 1,600 had become full-time entrepreneurs. NYSC supports corps members to develop business proposals for funding.
Government institutions and partners must conduct both needs assessment and impact evaluations to better understand how to address key challenges of access to microfinance, technology and mentoring that stand to possibly undermine the program.
Best practices from the program can be documented and shared to influence policy change on youth entrepreneurship and employment. The public-private partnership model it employs creates space for sharing opportunities and risks.
Date: November 20, 2017