Youth Empowerment: Time to Focus on Building Skills, Entrepreneurship Capacity

By Lawan Bukar Maigana

The place of human capital development in the overall efforts to liberate the youth from joblessness and poverty cannot be overemphasized. The world has moved beyond paper qualifications. Emphasis is now on problem-solving capacity or competence, skills, tech/IT knowledge, talents or business acumen.

Seeking white-collar jobs in government establishments and large private corporations is also outdated because the jobs are no longer there. In the 60s and 70s, sitting back and waiting for dream jobs after leaving secondary school or acquiring a degree is a sign of greatness and bright future. Since the beginning of the 21st century however, even going out to look for the jobs after acquiring PhD is a symptom of physical laziness and mental indolence.

This is because the world is now looking for who has the specific skills, talents or technologically know-how to solve specific problems, not those who are versed in theory and book knowledge. So, aside intellectual advancement, the youth of today should endeavour to also develop their talents, if they have, or learn a productive, profitable and most importantly, a problem-solving skill that can enable them stand a chance in this very competitive global economy.

Parents, policy makers, government officials and philanthropists must also help to direct the focus of the youth towards the early discovery of their talents and potential. They must create the enabling environment for all kids to exhibit their talents in sport, entertainment or arts, or acquire good vocational skills they can use to fend for themselves in the future.

Personal Experience

I learned tailoring before I finished secondary school. I can still remember when my father was asking my mother to stop me from going to the tailoring shop. I begged her to beg him to allow me to continue going. She politely explained the importance of allowing me to be an entrepreneur. He later accepted her explanations and allowed me to continue learning.

I took myself to my boss, Babakura Lawan. I was passing by and saw my friends working in his shop. I stopped by, met him, and told him that, “ ai kai abokin Yayana ne. Sabida haka zaka koya min dinki.”

I knew the way I talked to him wasn’t nice at all. I was battling childhood at that time. He kindly responded, telling me that yes he is my elder brother’s friend and he would teach me if I truly wanted to learn it.

It was an unforgettable experience. Guess what! I started sowing in two weeks because of my commitment to learning it. It worked out for me. Tailoring helped me a lot in both Polytechnic and the University. I would have disturbed my father with a lot of monetary requests if I was unskilled.

I can’t describe how grateful I am to my boss. I’m indebted to him. He helped me a lot. I can still remember the times I reported him to my father because he bombarded me with too much of work. He later said he was doing that deliberately because he trusted my work and wanted me to grow rapidly on the job.

Graduates who are still unemployed should not think it is too late to learn something they can do to add value to their lives, their families and the society in general.

Our brothers and sisters should drop the pride and learn something useful. Even when and if the dream job comes, someone who has a marketable skill, with or without a job, is far better off that the person who has only a job that can be taken away in the blink of an eye. Someone who has a skill has a life, a future and his independence, someone who has no skill owes his life and existence to someone who can give him a job even though that job can be taken away anytime.

My boss and teacher is a graduate of accountancy from the University of Maiduguri. He has trained more than 25 people in Maiduguri.

I call on the Borno state government to empower him, and others like him, to do more for young graduates and Borno youth.

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