Insightful will be the word for the just concluded Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) Stakeholder Engagement Session for the second quarter of 2021. On the 28th of June, 2021, different JAN stakeholders including board members, partners, alumni and staff gathered virtually to deliberate on one of the four JAN core pillars – Work readiness with a direct emphasis on the state of today’s workforce and what the organisation is doing together with its partners to prepare young people for the world of work.
In her welcome address, the Executive Director, JA Nigeria, Foluso Gbadamosi highlighted JAN’s successes, recounting the support the organisation has enjoyed from its board members and partners which have helped to reach over 50,000 young people just in 2021 in discovering their potentials.
Representing the Aliko Dangote Foundation was Zakari Momodu who reiterated the organisation’s target of reaching one million young people in five years. He expressed the feasibility of this goal, adding that the switch over to digital platforms and tech-enabled methodology, as well as the support of partners, board members and the state government, will strengthen the attainment of this goal.
Zakari sought the opportunity to welcome Union bank – our newest board member and longstanding sponsor of JAN’s girl empowerment program (LEAD Camp) – and its representative, Ogochukwu Ekezie-Ekaidem, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer at Union bank. In her response, Kemi Ogunleye, Head of Strategic Communication at Union Bank who represented Ogochukwu Ekezie-Ekaidem, thanked the organisation for the opportunity, stating that the bank is committed to developing more financially literate youth and harnessing young people’s talent.
The work readiness and entrepreneurship panel session focused on three questions which is a product of the survey conducted by Oliver Wyman to examine the employability gaps among Africans. The questions were:
- What is the state of today’s workforce?
- What does your organization do to support youth entering the workplace?
- How do the work-readiness program findings resonate with you as a JAN partner?
Participants of this panel session were: Adekemi Akinyede (Parthian Partners), Dr. Henrietta Onwuegbuzie (Lagos Business School), Tamilore Oni (Google), Ogochukwu Ekezie-Ekaidem (Union Bank), Simbo Olatoregun (Facebook), Pierre Romagny (Oliver Wyman) with Malebo Mohube from Oliver Wyman as the Moderator.
Using the result of a survey conducted across 13 JA African countries and the impact of COVID-19 on employment sectors countries between youth and employers perspective on the perceived skill gap in the labour market, the survey exposed the need for relevant work experience, digital and behavioral skills. It was concluded that young people really do need internship experience whether through internships or other forms of placement opportunities. However, due to the pandemic, it’s been difficult for young people to access and get these opportunities.
The result of the survey helped in juxtaposing insights from the aforementioned questions. Beginning with Jeff Youseff on the concerns of the state of today’s workforce, he explained the challenges amongst different sectors such as the banking, media, consulting and other sectors; this paved the way for the panelist to express how they are dealing with the problems or plan to deal with the concerns of today’s workforce.
The vibrant discussions from partners and stakeholders birthed solutions such as sourcing strategy for trainee programs and fixing in-house talents which can eventually spill over to the economy. The rigorous process of harnessing the best talents for management trainees programs and training them for the role has proven to be productive in helping to bridge skill gaps over the years and raising exceptional leaders; Financial organisations like Parthian Partners and Union bank attested to the credibility of this strategy.
Opening thoughts from the academia lens was a clear “ask” inspired by Dr. Henrietta Onwuegbuzie (Lagos Business School) where she amplified the need for employers to reach out to economic and academic institutions to reach out to diverse sectors to understand the knowledge needed in diverse sectors as this could help young people to be job-ready.
As the event moved to the need for organizations to support youths entering the workplace, Zakari spoke on the newly founded foundation by the Dangote Group. This foundation seeks to train qualified students for a year and at the end of the program, 70% are guaranteed employment to join the Dangote Group and 30% are available to the markets.
Conversations among the panelists explained the need for young people to be bestowed with the excitement to learn things outside the norm. This pointed out how partnership with Junior Achievement Nigeria keeps rising to erase the African notion where a child is left handicapped in his dream. As we wrapped up this session, stakeholders emphasized the need for young ones to be both job-ready and self-reliant owing to the fact that entrepreneurship is a good way to develop the economy and secure the rising job insecurities – this again reiterated the need for institutions to make their curriculum robust enough to ensure the coverage of emotional intelligence, hands-on experiences, vocational skills and affiliation with different sectors in a bid to keep track of job readiness knowledge/skills.
JAN’s Executive Director ignited the house with answers on how the work-readiness findings resonate with JAN partners in explaining one of the yearly work readiness and entrepreneurial programs that JAN organises to close the skill gaps – the Venture in Management Program. ViMP is a mini- MBA tailored towards helping young graduates or Corp members receive and practice training in a world-class Institution called Lagos Business School. Passing the baton to the program’s sponsors – Parthian partners; Adekemi concluded in stating the need for young people to possess critical skills/ soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, teamwork as it helps their performance in the workplace and prepares them for jobs.
Junior Achievement Nigeria is playing a pivotal role in developing skills necessary to help young people thrive in professional careers and entrepreneurship. From the survey, 60% of employers require Digital and Behavioural skills and this is something JAN is already working on through diverse programs such as ViMP, Google IT Support, Company Program, LEAD Camp, BE entrepreneurial, Facebook Digital Marketing, Facebook Safe Online amongst others. We are confident to reach and impact a million young people in the next 5 years with the support of our Board members, Partners and Team.
We appreciate all our stakeholders; our board members, partners, government, volunteers, teachers and students. Thank you for your effort in helping us prepare young people for future success.