Eleven vocational training and employment centres (VTECs) in Lagos Wednesday emerged the first set of beneficiaries in the multi-million dollar partnership between the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund and the U.S. African Development Foundation.
Speaking at the grant-signing ceremony where the beneficiaries were announced, Yetunde Arobieke, the commissioner for wealth creation and employment, said the partnership with the U.S. agency is aimed at building the capacity of 15,000 young people in Lagos State in the next five years.
"Today, both parties are here to validate the memorandum of understanding signed in May 2019 and to take deliberate steps to fulfil our promise to our young and productive population with the award of grants to 11 vocational training centres following the completion of the project development phase," said Mrs Arobieke.
"The implementation of relevant industry training will be our next focus within this programme. I'm glad about the robustness of this programme, as industries and sectors to be covered under this initiative include but not limited to technology, creative arts, agriculture value chain, transport and logistics, renewable energy, and construction.
"It is our hope that beyond the total number of youth who will benefit from this programme, many others will be inspired to embrace self-development based on the positive impact of this initiative on their peers."
The Lagos State government, represented by the LSETF, in May 2019 signed a five-year, $10 million commitment with the USADF to increase youth employment in Nigeria through financial investments, job training and placements, and entrepreneurship opportunities. Each party is expected to contribute $1 million annually over the period.
The 11 beneficiaries include Field of Skills and Dreams, Universal Learn Direct Academy, OSC College of Fashion, Lofty Ink Allied Partners Ltd, Decke Vocational Academy, and Honey Treat Trade Academy.
The rest are Body Refinement Ltd, Intermarc Consulting, House of Tara, After-School Graduate Development Centre (AGDC), and Jenniez School of African Interior Design.
The beneficiaries are expected to receive between $10,000 and $100,000 each.
"The expectation from the Lagos State government is very high, so I implore all the VTECs whom we are passing the responsibility for successful implementation of agreed curricula that will equip our youth with relevant skills, enabling them to hold their own against their peers anywhere in the world," Mrs Arobieke continued.
"To the beneficiaries of this training, I urge you to take full advantage of this opportunity to advance your career, realise your dreams, and become beacons of hope for our friends and loved ones."
The USADF is a U.S. government African development agency which provides seed capital and local project management assistance to early stage enterprises addressing local challenges such as food security, energy access, and women and youth employment.
C.D Glin, the USADF president, said the partnership with the Lagos State government is part of the agency's model of using local partners to provide solutions to local problems
"Our model is very much African-driven, African-led," said Mr Glin. "It's the US taxpayers dollars, it's a US government agency but we invest in Africans and their ideas, their innovations and solutions, to the challenges that face the continent."
Mr Glin said the partnership with Lagos government "was an easy opportunity for us to build on the LSETF momentum."
"So many times we think about U.S. government working in Africa and maybe bringing in our own solutions to African challenges, but this is where we found a state, Lagos State, already running, already going and we were able to match that momentum," he said.
"We are taking your lead and your guidance, LSETF, and the commissioner for wealth creation and employment around how to really make this work.
"When we are successful here, with 15,000 and more, this is going to be transformational not only for Lagos State but the other 35 states in Nigeria and then the 50 plus countries on the continent because we are all facing the same challenges round this need for employment, job creation and entrepreneurship."