Technical Training Program: Nestle’s Antidote to Youth Unemployment
By Azeez Disu
Technical and vocational skills development seems to be alien to young people nowadays. According to an independent survey only 1 in 100 young Nigerians have acquired one technical and vocational skills or the other.
The dearth of technical and vocational skills have further raised the unemployment rate in the country, a country that has one of the largest youth population in the world. The figure from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that about 53.40% of youths were unemployed in 2022. Analysts forecasted that the figure will keep rising if something urgent is not done.
“With the rising unemployment and challenged educational system, one of the sure paths to rapid national development is technical and vocational skills development,” Wale Oyerinde, Director General, Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) emphasized.
Private Sector to the Rescue
Beyond government effort in tackling the menace which many say is not enough, the citizens are looking up to the private sector to help come up with a solution.
In 2011, Nestlé Nigeria responded to the call by launching the “Technical Training Program”. The program started small but today has grown to have third centers impacting young people with the required technical and vocational skills to accelerate the growth of industries, create employment opportunities, reduce poverty, and contribute to the growth of the economy.
Trainees participate in an intensive 18-month program that builds their competence in machining, mechanical fitting operations, electrical operations, instrumentation operations, and automation, culminating in the prestigious London City and Guilds technical certification examination.
“I need to earn an income to meet my needs and to support my family,” Anthonia Ehibor, an indigene of Edo State and one of the beneficiaries of the initiative is optimistic that the knowledge acquired will help her earn a decent living in a world young ladies are venturing into illegitimate means to earn a living.
The initiative speaks volumes of how Nestlé is contributing to the actualization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria. In line with the goals; it is helping to reduce poverty and hunger, boost quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, and accelerate industry growth in the country.
Literarily, Nestlé is renewing the spirit of young people to believe in themselves and the country again admits the growing “japa syndrome” with vibrant young labor forces traveling abroad to seek greener pastures.
One of the beneficiaries of the training who is now an employee of Nestlé, Precious Iyamu says “I can confidently tell young people across the country that they should not give up hope, as their dreams and aspirations are attainable if they put in the required work and dedication to prepare themselves to access opportunities when they become available.”
Recall, that Precious clinched 31 distinctions and one merit in the 32 courses he took in the City and Guilds examinations. He also said the Nestlé’s Technical Training Program has transformed his life and that of his family.
Closing Unemployment Gap
The MD/CEO, Nestlé Nigeria, Wassim Elhusseini said, “The technical training program is an initiative of our global flagship program, Nestlé Needs Youth.
The program is one of the sustainable pathways through which we contribute to meeting the technical needs of the industry while enabling young Nigerians to access economic opportunities. Young people have a key role to play in shaping the future we desire. We are determined to remain at the forefront of the fight against youth unemployment by helping young people develop the capabilities and skills they need to contribute towards accelerating the industrialization we need to grow our economy”.
The three training centers in the country are located at Nestlé Nigeria’s Agbara and Flowergate factories, both in Ogun State, and Abaji factory in the Federal Capital Territory. Over 180 students have benefitted from the program since its inception; 95% of them are directly employed by Nestlé Nigeria and 5% with other multinationals. Nestlé remains committed to skilling, reskilling, and upskilling youth as a sure path to a productive future.
There is a popular saying that “the reward for good is work is more” While the effort is commendable, Nestlé Nigeria needs to do more to help further reduce unemployment. Also, other companies should emulate the gesture in the interest of truly making an impact as a corporate citizen.