The Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme, which would be officially launched by President Buhari at a later date, is designed by the Office of the Vice President in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP.
Announcing the programme on Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said the programme was named in honour of the 60th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence.
“It is our belief that this program will bridge the gap between the skills and capabilities of recent graduates, and the real-time human resource demands of the labour market; connecting the graduates with opportunities to earn as they learn, and to gain required experience.
“At the end of each cohort, the fellows should have gained the required experience and skills they can either use immediately or build on subsequently.”
Prof. Osinbajo said that the programme would provide internship opportunities for young Nigerians who have recently concluded the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, scheme to acquire skills and knowledge that would enable them to tackle the challenges of unemployment.
“These fully-paid internships will last for 12 months and will be in reputable private and public sector organizations across the country.
“The idea will be for the participants to gain relevant career and life skills that will enable them transition seamlessly into professional, business or public sector careers, while also earning a living along the way.
“So the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme is in very good company. A new and bold addition to an existing suite of large-scale, big-impact programmes that will rewrite the narrative as it relates to jobs, skills and employment in Nigeria.”
The vice president said that it has become necessary to create good-paying jobs and employment opportunities for young people, for those already in the labour market today and the ones who will join tomorrow.
“This is a task that is complicated by numerous employability issues including the mismatch between skills and the good jobs available.
“The most obvious examples are new skill sets required in commerce, industry, services and the professions brought about by the digital economy.
“Along the same lines, job losses on account of digitization require reskilling for relevant opportunities. 3-D or additive manufacturing as an example threatens low cost manufacturing jobs which in years gone by solved the unemployment problem in developed and emerging economies.”
Osinbajo said that the Covid-19 pandemic has added urgency to the situation as it might have irreversibly altered the way people work, learn, and play.
“Yes, there are many challenges but also many opportunities,” he stated.
Vice President Osinbajo described the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme as the latest in the Nigerian government’s initiative to comprehensively address the youth unemployment challenge in Nigeria.
“Our ongoing efforts include the N-Power Scheme, which recruits young graduates and places them in agricultural, health and education intervention schemes in local communities around the country.
“N-Power also has a non-graduate scheme focused on technical skills and IT education.
“The President has approved the expansion of the N-Power programme from 500,000 beneficiaries to one million this year.
“We have also established a N75 billion youth fund in the Ministry of youth and sports to provide credit and support for young entrepreneurs and professionals.”
He also spoke about the Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), designed to protect existing jobs, create new ones, and promote local production as well as agricultural, housing and solar power programmes that “Already employ and will employ tens of thousands of people to ensure food security, and deliver affordable homes and new power connections.”
Osinbajo said that the quality of implementation of the programme would be the key to the success of the Jubilee Fellows Program, stating that government would ensure that the programme succeeds.
“We are resolute in our determination to make the needed difference, and rebuild the confidence of our young people in the ability of their government to rise up to the occasion and guarantee a future that is better and more prosperous than the past.”
Earlier, the Resident Representative, UNDP Nigeria, Mr. Mohamed Yahaya, the programme would enable young Nigerians to access skills that would help them to navigate an evolving job market.
“By creating channels between graduates and companies, the programme will identify the emerging skills that the companies need while equipping graduates to make impact and giving them an opportunity to learn from captains of industry and public sector leaders.
“It allows graduates to engage in dialogue and speak out on their challenges in a meaningful way on how to break into the entrepreneurship space.”
Statements of support for the programme came from the United Nations, the African Development Bank and the European Union.