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UNICEF, Unilever trains Nigerian Students with essential skills for future careers : targets three million youths

The University of Lagos, Akoka Yaba, main Auditorium was full of life when the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Unilever Nigeria organised “ the Future-X Campus Ambassadors Programme, “ (FUCAP), organized a seminar, to equip young people with 21st-century skills to thrive as successful professionals and entrepreneurs.

Students at the event which cuts across all departments with some of them taking leadership positions having been trained to understand the workings of the programme were beginning to rediscover themselves as some of them were ready to take on “ side hustle “.       

Because (FUCAP) is a student ambassadorial initiative aimed at engaging future leaders, helping them explore their passions to better understand their career paths, it gave the students the opportunity to ask the relevant questions while having fun.

Putting the students through the skills, the People Partner and Lead Project Coordinator of the FUCAP, Zainab Ajadi, said that the entrepreneurship concept was targeted to groom future entrepreneurs and employers who are willing to take risks to grow their businesses.

Ajadi noted that, “the collaboration with UNICEF was to create awareness about the opportunities, equipping youths for the future and enabling them to lead purposeful lives.

“ One of the challenges faced was changing youths’ mindsets and helping them envision the future so they can adapt whenever the need arises”. Ajadi

Explaining further, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristine Mundane, represented by the Programme Specialist, UNICEF Nigeria, Bharat Kundra said “ the objective is to expose Nigerian youths to 21st-century skills for them to transform the society and establish themselves as professionals and entrepreneurs.

“ The initiative have four components including, career seminars, entrepreneurship skills course, work experience and youth challenges, “ already, 10 of the seminars have been conducted in different universities across the country, Kundra said.

“ We want the seminars to reach three million Nigerian youths and equip 700,000 with essential skills, with this, young people with 21st-century skills will thrive and become successful.

“In spite of future challenges like technological changes, access to devices and the internet, climate issues, or pandemics, young people with 21st-century skills will thrive as successful professionals and entrepreneurs.

“Nigeria is the first country to benefit from this initiative. The programme focuses on four key areas: career seminars, entrepreneurship courses, work experience, and youth challenges.

“We aim to connect 700,000 young people in Nigeria to meaningful opportunities by 2026, and we have already established strong connections with universities to facilitate the transition into the workplace.

“UNICEF Works with trained volunteers to mentor others in acquiring these skills. 

“And the goal is to mentor 20 million youths by 2026, ensuring that FUCAP participants can meaningfully utilise their skills to build their careers and mentor others,” he added.

The UNICEF official, however, encouraged the youth comprising university undergraduates to be optimistic and proactive, leveraging the skills learned from such seminars to share ideas and lessons with a broader audience,  nothing that, Nigeria, societies and workplaces have transformed, and the skills required by young people must evolve as well.

Encouraging the  students, Professor. Ayodele Atsenuwa, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development Services) UNILAG, said, the institution, through its entrepreneurship programmes, was developing opportunities and preparing students to have an edge in the workplace upon graduation.

Atsenuwa urged the students to make maximum use of the FUCAP to prepare themselves for the blue economy.

“You students of this great institution and our alumni are our pride.”

A Cross Section of beneficiaries applauded the organizers saying the presentations had inspired and helped to direct their passion to the right side, pointing out that, the initiative has taught them a lot about self-confidence, self-esteem and the disadvantages of having an inferiority complex.

Idongesit Ubong a 200-level student of the Faculty of Law, UNILAG, and a participant at the seminar, commended UNICEF and Unilever for putting up the seminar, which, according to him, has added more valuable knowledge to the student’s choice of career. He described the programme as laudable and top-notch.

Also, Ngozi Nelson, a part 2 student of the Department of Business Education, Oluwakemi Durosinmi, a part three Law student and Obey Victoria, a part three student of Bio-Chemistry all lauded the company just as they charged their fellow students to take the programme seriously.

Survey by the Nigerian Labour Force, released by the National Bureau of Statistics, indicates that, as of the second half of last year, (2023 ), the unemployment rate among persons with post-secondary education was 8%. The unemployment rate among youth aged 15-24 years in the second quarter of 2023 was 7.2%, slightly up from 6.9% in the first quarter of the same year.

By this, organizers say, the right time to keep the youth busy is now .

Julie Ekong

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