| July 26, 2021

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Launches research into digital literacy for youth post-pandemic

The World Youth Skills Day is an annual event organized by the United Nations (UN) to celebrate the importance of empowering youths with decent work, employment, and entrepreneurship skills. The focus of this year’s celebration is the resilience and the creativity of youths during the pandemic while discussing the roles that Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) systems have played in youth empowerment and the strategies to be adopted in the post-COVID-19 world.

According to a UN report, “young people aged 15-24 have been even more severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis than adults. Globally, youth employment fell by 8.7 percent in 2020, compared with 3.7 percent for adults. The consequences of this disruption to the early labour market experiences of youth could last for years.” The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to fore the importance of digital literacy as people relied on Information Technologies to get work done and stay connected to their families during the lockdown.

This formed the crux of the conversation at the roundtable event organized by Tech4Dev to commemorate the World Youth Skills Day at the Tech4Dev office in Ogudu, Lagos State.

In his welcome address at the event, Tech4Dev’s Co-Founder and Director of Partnerships and Sustainability reiterated the need to empower the youth with digital skills to help them qualify for jobs in demand. In his words, “The COVID-19 pandemic has left such an impact on the world economy. According to the recent update by the International Labor Organization (ILO), between April-June 2020, the world lost almost 400 million full-time jobs due to the pandemic. Combining this number with the number of people who were already unemployed before the pandemic brings us to an alarming unemployment rate. International Days like World Youth Skills Day are celebrated to shine a light on these issues and keep conversations going on sustainable ways to mitigate them.” He also pointed out the need to leverage technology and the media, to share thoughts and conversations on important topics that affect our world today.

In the roundtable conversation moderated by Micheal John, the Senior Programs Manager at Tech4Dev, the panelists shared insights on the importance of skills training as an add-on to help young people gain decent employment opportunities. On the panel were Lanre Akomolafe, Chief Product and Innovation Officer, Prunedge; Ade Olowojoba, Founder Code Tutor; Ekundayo Ayeni, CEO Business Plus.

Lanre Akomolafe spoke on the need for continuous self-learning. In his words, he said, “No matter how skilled you are today, if you are unable to learn new skills, it is only a matter of time before you become obsolete. The Nigerian school curriculums are lacking in preparing young people for the future of work. Self-learning is key to qualify for in-demand jobs.”

Building on this, Ekundayo Ayeni said, “As a youth, you must realize that the world is becoming a digital village. You need to have skills that meet global standards because, in the next 5-10 years, you will be competing against the person in Germany or China. Jobs will only go to people who can deliver.”

Further into the conversation, Ade Olowojoba noted that the government needs to create an enabling environment for young people, especially from a younger age. “The youth make up a majority of the Nigerian population, and it is important to chart a path for success for them. Certain skills will become most relevant in the next five years. Becoming more deliberate in empowering every young person with digital skills, especially in rural communities, is crucial. Inviting all key stakeholders – the educational, skilling organizations, financial organizations, youth representatives, private sector, ministries, Federal, State and Local Governments etc. – to the table to chart a sustainable plan to achieve this is a start. There can be skills financing programs, technology centers scattered across the country where young people can go to learn these in-demand skills”, he said.

In the concluding part of the event, some of the beneficiaries of Tech4Dev’s programs shared their experiences of learning digital skills during the pandemic. Adeola Ibrahim, one of the beneficiaries, had lost her job due to the pandemic, but getting an opportunity to learn digital skills opened her to opportunities she would otherwise not have had. In her words, “there are jobs, but without the right skillsets, one cannot qualify for them. It is important to learn the relevant skills needed for the job you want.”

As an organization, Tech4Dev is passionate about creating opportunities for young people to learn digital skills to access decent work and entrepreneurship opportunities. To ensure that young people can access these growth opportunities, we are set to explore our work to harness leading trends in digital literacy utilizing relevant research methodologies to better influence digital and STEM adoption. Our research will enable us to communicate with broader sets of audiences in ways that will facilitate decision-making following current and future digitalization activities. 

Our research publications will understudy experiences people face whilst adopting technologies in Africa.  For example, in some parts of Africa, we see that school leavers are stressed by their inability to find high-paying jobs due to a lack of sustainable digital skills, adequate policies, processes, and governance needed to create environments conducive to digital growth. We are committed to proffering sustainable methodologies through our research.