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EU EXPRESSED COMMITMENT TO GROW NIGERIA’S HUMAN CAPITAL

European businesses operating in the country and the European Union Delegation to Nigeria are stepping up collaboration towards helping to address the skills gap in the employment sector and leveraging Nigeria’s huge population of young people to drive economic prosperity. At a Stakeholders Conference hosted by European Business Chambers in Nigeria (Eurocham) in Lagos on Thursday, participants sought ways to raise the country’s stock of human capital and enhance employability and economic growth. The event was themed Youths, Education, Employment and Skills.

At the conference, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Samuela Isopi, said Youth, Education, Employability and Skills (YEES!) are also a top concern and top priority for the European Union, both internally and in its cooperation with partner countries. Ambassador Isopi, who is also the Honorary President of Eurocham Nigeria, described human capital as key to Nigeria’s development, and said the EU, its Members States and EU businesses recognised this in their engagements with the country.
Both the European Union and Eurocham Nigeria are playing leading roles in the Nigeria Jubilee Fellowship Programme (NJFP), a collaborative initiative between the Nigerian Government and key stakeholders to build a reservoir of innovative and employable skills in the country, by placing smart young graduates in paid 1-year internships in companies across the country.  The programme targets 100,000 youths over a five-year period.
“Demography has indeed the potential to help transform Nigeria; but it also poses challenges in terms of demand for quality education, skill development and employment,” Ambassador said.
With young people making up 70% of Nigeria’s population, the EU has prioritised the youth across all areas of its cooperation with the country. Under the Team Europe Initiative “Investing in Young Businesses in Africa” (IYBA) launched in Nigeria last year, the EU is rolling out a number of regional and national projects aimed at enhancing job creation for the youth, enhance their employability and entrepreneurship.
The number of young Nigerians awarded scholarships under Erasmus+, the EU’s flagship programme for education, training and youth development, has quadrupled in the last four years, rising to over 200 in 2022, and making Nigeria the country with the second highest number of Erasmus+ scholarships worldwide.
Also recognising that youth empowerment is critical in the perspective of coming general elections, the EU has put the youth and their role in democratic governance first, through programmes aimed at mobilizing Nigerian youth to register and vote in the elections

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