The challenges of growing youth employment rate is alarming increasing with latest jobless figures showing that 12.6 percent of young people or some 75 million youths are out of work. The need for increased investments in youths is paramount especially in Africa where 90 percent of 1.2 billion people aged 15 and 24 years live in developing countries while only 10% live in developed countries. Undeniably the major challenges are in Africa where also the average age of the population today is 19 years old.
Taking a critical look at Nigeria, the situation is far from different if not worse. Nigeria is home to the largest population standing at 173.6 million compared to that of any other African country. It is blessed with a fertility rate of 6 births per woman, no wonder it has one of the largest population of youth in the world and the largest economy by GDP in the sub-Sahara Africa. One would assume that being on top of African economies that it would translate to quality jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. However, the Nigerian youths are confronted with poverty, unemployment, urbanization, lack of capacity and skills needed to move the economy forward. 69 percent of university and polytechnic graduates are unemployed, while employers have described Nigeria graduates as unemployable lacking needed workplace skills. This critical skill gaps inhibits the development of youths and the entire development of the nation, as more than half of the Nigerian populations are under the age of 30.
Zooming into the Niger Delta region, the situation is pretty ugly. The population of the Niger Delta region is young with nearly two thirds of its population estimated at 29 million being below 30 years of age. The region is characterized by extremely high poverty levels despite the oil resources. The youth employment rate is 40 percent far exceeding the national average youth unemployment of 14 percent.
We are calling on governments both federal and state including social partners to foster pro-employment growth and decent job creation through macroeconomic policies, employability, labour market policies, and youth entrepreneurship to tackle the social consequences of the crisis, while ensuring financial and fiscal sustainability. There is urgent need to promote macroeconomic policies and fiscal incentives that support employment and stronger aggregate demand, improve access to finance and increase productive investment â€“ taking account of different economic situations in different regions. Government should also adopt fiscally sustainable and targeted measures, such as demand-side interventions, public employment programmes, employment guarantee schemes, labour-intensive infrastructure programmes, wage and training subsidies and other specific youth employment interventions.