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The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chris Ngige, has advised Nigerian youth to embrace creative skills, saying they offer better opportunities than government jobs.

He also called on unemployed graduates to key into profitable opportunities offered by blue/green-collar jobs.

Mr Ngige gave the advice at a Townhall Meeting on popularisation of blue/green collar jobs among graduates of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, which was held in Benin, Edo State.

A statement by the spokesperson of the ministry, Charles Akpan, said the minister was represented at the event by the director, special duties and projects department in the ministry, Martina Nwordu.

Mr Ngige urged the Nigerian youth to invest their talent in blue/green collar jobs sector, as “the richest youth of the world, aged between 21 and 31 years, are not employees of government but smart entrepreneurs”, who distinguished themselves in creative skills in various areas.

He urged the stakeholders – unemployed graduates, parents, career counsellors, students of tertiary institutions, among others – to key into the profitable opportunities offered by blue/green collar jobs, which include income satisfaction, self-dignity and esteemed self-worth.

Mr Ngige also urged the stakeholders to cooperate with the government on the programme, as it would also contribute to achieving President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

The minister then enjoined the representatives of the various stakeholders to convey the messages of the meeting to their various communities.

He said the meeting, which held concurrently in four other geopolitical zones of the federation, was to sensitise representatives of key stakeholders in graduate employment on the benefits of blue/green-collar jobs as an alternative response to the challenges of graduate unemployment.

Mr Ngige said the meeting was part of the activities of the Graduate Employability Enhancement Scheme, an initiative of his ministry, on how to break the resilience of high unemployment rate in the country.

President Buhari during the electioneering campaigns had promised to provide jobs for the mass of unemployed Nigerian youth.

Buhari Promise for unemployed Youth

At a campaign rally in Kano and other places 2015, the president promised to create three million jobs yearly to solve the problem of unemployment.

Also, the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, at a campaign rally in Akure, pledged 20,000 jobs yearly totalling 720,000.

President Buhari at the launch of his re-election campaign manifesto in 2019, said the next level, N-Power would engage one million graduates and then there is a promise to skill up 10 million people under a voucher system in partnership with the private sector.

He said several millions of jobs would be created through agriculture, including using the “Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to support input and jobs to one million farmers.”

Mr Buhari promised to provide $500 million in funding for the tech and creative industry to create 500 thousand jobs and train 200,000 youth for outsourcing market in technology, services and entertainment.

He said further jobs would emerge from the creation of Regional Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones.

Mr Buhari also vowed to create ‘300,000 extra jobs’ for vendors and farmers by increasing the number of children fed under the school feeding programme from 9.2 million to 15 million.

The minister of finance, budget and national planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, in August 2019 said the government had developed strategies to create employment opportunities for youth in the country.

She said the president has directed a plan through the implementation and we are in the process of devising the plan so that” we can grow the economy in a more robust manner.

According to her, the government is fully aware that one of the challenges facing Nigeria’s economy is unemployment.

“The challenge has been unemployment; this is why all the sectors of the economy have to focus on creating jobs in different ways.

“Sourcing funds for medium enterprises will be a major progress, because as medium businesses grow, there will be more employment.

“We have a clear policy which we have been implementing in the first term,” she said.

Nigeria unemployment rate

Nigeria’s unemployment rate increased from 18.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.

The statistics bureau in a report said the economically active or the working-age population (15 – 64 years of age) increased from 111.1 million in Q3 2017 to 115.5million in Q3 2018.

The labour minister in May 2019 also said Nigeria’s unemployment rate would reach 33.5 per cent by 2020.

The NBS released the last unemployment data and job creation report in the third quarter of 2018, announcing that the country’s unemployment figure rose to about 23.1 per cent.

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