To address the high rate of youth unemployment ravaging the country, West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE) has announced a training Programme in October 2013, with a focus on the Hospitality and Retail Sector to leverage on the sector's potential to create new jobs. The training model involves screening unemployed youths with a minimum of West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificates, training them in a 150-hour employability skills programme and placing the best performers in paid technical apprenticeships with hotels, restaurants, retailers and other hospitality companies that WAVE partnerships with.
In a statement by one of the facilitators, Ms Misan Rewane, a 7UP Harvard MBA Scholarship recipient, said the worsening high youth unemployment rates occasioned by skills shortage and job marketplace dynamics, which range from 40 to 85 percent in varying West African countries. In Nigeria, youth unemployment hovers at 45-50 per cent, while in Lagos specifically, an estimated three million people under-35 are unemployed and looking for work, she observed.
According to her, "education in the region is severely failing to provide young people with the skills needed to participate and compete in the job marketplace. With 60 to 70 percent of Africa's population under the age of 30, it is of critical importance that we learn how to tap into the vast resources that young people represent. Africa's youth have the ability to drive positive social change and economic growth when given the appropriate resources and opportunities. However, these same youths could potentially be the biggest risk to the region's development if they continue to be marginalised."
Perhaps surprising is that jobs are being created across the region. For example, the retail and hospitality sector is projected to generate 8-13 million stable jobs across sub-Saharan Africa by 2020. Yet even as the region harnesses its potential to accelerate job creation, its youth continue to be locked out of employment opportunities.
A closer look reveals that the most economically disadvantaged youth, who have been victims of a failing education system, confront an array of interlocking barriers that hinder their job prospects - lack of skills, work experience, academic qualifications as well as a lack of information on job opportunities.
She said WAVE aims to create vocational education academies to empower millions of young people through specific industry-relevant skills while also giving them access to employment opportunities that develop their technical skills. The program will also provide employers with more choices in getting the best-suited young talents for their job roles.