On 30 September 2021, The Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta – PIND in a grant award ceremony launched the Delta Youth Employment Program (DYEP). The Delta State Youth Employment Program (DYEP) will adapt the Niger Delta Youth Employment Pathways Project (NDYEP) piloted model and framework which seeks to map the ecosystem of skills development, analyze opportunities for employment creation and develop models of youth job readiness or workforce development. The program will provide disadvantaged young men and women in Delta State, the opportunity to secure sustainable jobs or start enterprises through market-driven technical and soft skills development, applying innovative and qualitative training curriculum which will support their transitioning into waged employment or self-employment/entrepreneurship.
Between September 2018 and March 2021, The Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta – PIND, in two phases, implemented the pilot Niger Delta Youth Employment Pathways Project (NDYEP) with funding from Ford Foundation in three States of the Niger Delta: Abia, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers across emerging sectors of agriculture, construction, finished leather, ICT, and renewable energy according to the labor market assessment conducted in the States. The pilot project saw 4,355 Vulnerable Niger Delta youth equipped with market relevant skills and at the end of the project 1,933 of the successful trainees were linked to waged employment through apprenticeship/internship, or entrepreneurship opportunities, each now earning income.
Building on the success of the PIND model to youth employment creation, PIND has engaged Niger Delta state governments to promote the adoption or adaptation of the model to either improve on their current youth employment schemes or to adopt it for new schemes to address issues of youth unemployment or under-employment in their respective states.
During his opening remarks at the launch of the Delta State Youth Employment Program, the Executive Director of PIND, Dr. Dara Akala, was quoted saying “A local African proverb says that if a road is good, people will travel through it again and again. This is certainly true of NDYEP as DYEP was borne as a result of the successes recorded through NDYEP and is also modelled after the principles and framework of NDYEP to address youth job readiness, workforce development and job creation within in-demand sectors of ICT, Agriculture, Building Construction, Finished Leather and Services (Catering, Decoration and Fashion Designing) in Delta State”.
Akala went on to say that “Today, I am excited to witness another gathering of similar stakeholders for the award of grants worth over 71 million Naira to nine competitively selected, highly competent implementing partner organizations to equip nearly 600 youth with market relevant skills for work and job creation by providing them with innovative demand-led training and support. Through these grants, these youths will receive a new lease in life, have the ability to meet their basic needs and live a life of dignity”.
Addressing youth unemployment remains one of the most significant development challenges at this time for governments and non-State actors at the national and subnational levels, including the Niger Delta. The national unemployment rate rose to 33.3 percent in Q4 of 2020 from 27.1 percent in Q2 of the same year. Some Niger Delta states remain in the top bracket of the league table of this high unemployment.
In his closing remarks, Akala said “So it is our hope that the DYEP grants we are awarding today will produce a crop of young people in Delta State, and in the region by extension, who have the abilities to thrive and live up to their full potentials; who have the opportunities, skills and will to drive economic development and stability, without forever depending on handouts and aids”.
Appreciating PIND for the laudable youth employment program, Fabian Emmanuel of Azure Gold Limited a grant recipient and implementing partner organization for the DYEP program in the Building Construction sector thanked PIND for the opportunity saying “I will like to thank PIND for this opportunity and on behalf of myself and other implementing grant recipients here today, I assure you that we will deliver on the mandate given to us.
Representing the Asaba Chambers of Commerce, Edwin Chukwuma, Director General of the Chamber of Commerce, described the umbrella body of the organized private sector as the beneficiaries of the program stating that “As employers of labor we are the beneficiaries of this program because we need professionals who are trained in one skill or the other to fit our industrial needs because at the successful end of the program, we will have indigenous hands to handle our jobs instead of hiring foreigners”.
Stakeholders present at the grant award ceremony include: the newly on-boarded implementing partners, government representative from the Ministry of Youth and Job Creation, the Presidents of the Warri and Asaba Chambers of Commerce, Media, and other stakeholders.