Against the backdrop of deficiency in human capital development in state governments in Nigeria, the Enugu State Government is setting the pace.
The state government, under the leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has set up a youth empowerment program to bridge the youth unemployment gap in the state. The technology-based scheme is designed to help youths in the state acquire digital skills that will prepare them for employment.
The scheme, tagged e-YES, is the initiative of Enugu SME Center, under the Enugu Human Capital Development Loan Program.
Ugwuanyi said it is part of his projects aimed at human development and ease of doing business. He said: “Our commitment in developing human capital and ensuring that businesses thrive is reflected in our World Bank ease of Doing Business ranking, which moved from 27th to 3rd.”
The scheme is designed to empower youths in digital skills that will make them employable in fields such as: digital marketing, SMS marketing, advertising, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), internet promotion and data analytics. There are also email marketing, content marketing and mobile advertising.
However, the cost of the training is given as loans to the beneficiaries who are expected to pay back when they secure a job based on their acquired skills.
The state government is partnering with the private sector to execute the program, offering beneficiaries jobs upon completion of the training to enable them pay back their loans. Enugu SME Center said the scheme is designed that way to enable the participants to give back to the Enugu State government.
“Upon completion of the training, participants will be placed into jobs, and within agreed number of months are obligated to pay back the cost of the training through their respective salaries. This way, they cannot only contribute to the economic development of Enugu State and Nigeria at large, but funds can be recycled to train other youths,” the SME center said.
Technology has been touted to replace the oil economy in Nigeria, but many states are yet to tap into it, especially through digital-based youth empowerment schemes that will uncover talents and help them develop economically profitable ideas in the technology sector.
Arinze Chilo Offiah, the Special Adviser, SME Development Head, Enugu SME Center said the program will equip the youths to thrive in the digital age and contribute to the growth of the state’s economy. He added that the skills they will acquire will help improve them personally, fulfilling the human development goal of the scheme.
“Human capital development is important in improving and enhancing the quality of life the people as well as the private sector ecosystem,” he said. Adding that, “technology will continue to drive change in the work place, and for one to be a game-changer, one must be able to use technology to solve everyday problems. With this initiative, the Enugu SME Center is giving the youth an edge, starting now.”
However, the success of the initiative lies partly on the effectiveness of the training. Aware of this, the Enugu State Government is partnering with reputable tech companies to deliver impactful lessons. Some of them are affiliated to the Digital Marketing Institute of Ireland, which is globally recognized for training people in profitable digital skills.
Nigerian tech companies such Utiva and Wild Fusion Digital Center are part of the trainers. The CEO of Wild Fusion, Abasiama Idaresit said the firm has a reputation to protect, given their past record in delivering excellence in training, adding that it has international certification and validation to deliver quality digital marketing training and job placement for enrollees.
“We have trained over 4,000 students since 2014, who are gainfully employed and delivering value to their employers. Participants will be provided jobs in the private sector and also to provide service for MSMEs, startups and other such businesses across Nigeria and the globe. Being that we live in a digital age, it is easy for someone to provide service for a company irrespective of geographical location and earn foreign exchange while still residing in Enugu State. This initiative will leverage this as well,” he said.
Utiva said the training, of which the first phase is expected to take up to 800 registrants, will last for the next four to five months. They will be trained on programming and product design.
The digital and business skills development firm said the enrollees will be trained to fill the missing talent gaps in the tech sector of Enugu State’s economy. It said the project will “help firms and organizations find tech talents they need from Enugu State.”
Enugu State has continued its push to add more numbers from its employment record of 2018, when its unemployment rate fell by 1.82%. Ugwuanyi has been investing in human capital development projects to alleviate the troubling rate of unemployment in the State.
Using the Enugu SME Center as a frontier, the state government has pioneered different programs aimed at job creation. There are: Enugu Fenix Power Champions, Enugu Wifi Project, Auto-revamp Training Program (AITP), Enugu SME Hackathon and Enugu Job Portal Development & Employment Training Program. The Enugu State Government is targeting 20,000 jobs in 2020 through these initiatives.