In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, the case is no different. However, we must remember that prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, Nigeria already had an unemployment rate of 23.1 percent in 2019 according to the Nigeria Employers' Consultative Association (NECA) and the predictions for 2020 at the time were bleak. In 2019 NECA was already predicting that unemployment rates may rise to 33.5 percent in 2020. Therefore, this pandemic has simply exacerbated what was already a crisis situation.
In any adversity, there is always a silver lining. Despite the horrendous tragedies, this pandemic is forcing us to re-trace our steps while we lick our wounds. We have no option but to address the many issues that we should have prioritized decades ago. Youth unemployment and 21st century education and skills building is one of these issues.
It has been said many times that our youth population who represent the majority of Nigerians (approximately 43 percent of the population), could either be a tremendous asset and source of stability to Nigeria, or a liability and source of insecurity for the country. It all depends on whether we efficiently and sufficiently invest in them. As the nation continues to grapple with the pandemic, while slowly re-opening learning institutions and the economy, we must be intentional and strategic about what we do for our youth and young labour force.
These are a few things we must pay attention to and get right once and for all: