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Sanwo-Olu seeks private partnership, skill development to reduce youth unemployment

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has called for more partnership between the Government, private sector and non-governmental organisations in order to beat down youth unemployment in the country.

The Governor said the State yearly committed billions to Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) to support startups and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) operated by young entrepreneurs, but said the intervention was not enough to cater for the growing demand.

Sanwo-Olu called for more investment funding opportunities for the youth when he received a delegation from Prince’s Trust International – a global youth charity – in a courtesy visit on Wednesday at the State House, Marina.

The delegation was led by the charity’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Will Straw, and chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Shabir Randeree.

Prince’s Trust International was founded in the United Kingdom (UK) by His Majesty, King Charles III, to tackle the global crisis of youth unemployment.

Sanwo-Olu said the State Government, through the LSETF, had sustained over 50,000 new MSMEs established by young people by providing the seed capital to keep the enterprises afloat. The number, he said, was a far cry from demand from young people willing to create and build their businesses in the State.

The Governor said the effort must be doubled, with the objective to spread the wealth across startups in the ecosystem and create new jobs. He urged the charity to channel its funds towards creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs in need of business development skills and seed capital. This, he said, would widen employability and encourage the growth of MSMEs.

He said: “Lagos State Employment Trust Fund has been doing a lot of great things in supporting local enterprises and startups, but we need to double the numbers in response to high demand and unemployment rates. Yearly, we have a register of large number of applicants waiting to use the funds to build new businesses and do a lot more.

“Given our large youth population, what we require is skill development. We actually can provide the space and double the resources required to develop these capable young people. We must be able to give this population the right skills and help them to thrive in modern economic realities. This is where charities and other non-governmental organisations in the job ecosystem can provide support and interventions.”

Sanwo-Olu said the recently launched Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy (LJLA) was geared towards equipping the youth with the knowledge and industry-specific expertise to create wealth and raise future leaders.

The Governor pointed out that advancement in technology had been making the modern economy operate without barriers, praising the charity for embedding technology into its intervention programmes in Nigeria.

“The major takeaway for us as a State Government is the ability to scale up our intervention because we have the numbers. We are not going to take the back seat and watch people to drive this employment initiative. We are willing to participate in this programme by providing funding support to make more young people benefit,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Straw disclosed that the charity had worked with LSETF in the past 20 months and was ready to deepen its relationship with the agency, noting that the organisation had the ambition to support thousands of young Nigerians and others across Africa.

Straw said the then Prince Charles (now King Charles III) founded the charity in 1976, at the age of 27, as the largest youth charity in the UK, supporting vulnerable young talented people in building their skills.

Internationalisation of the charity, he said, was followed by Charles’ visit to Nigeria where he gave commitment to expand the scope of the intervention to the youth in Commonwealth nations in which Nigeria is a member.

He said the charity had two projects in Nigeria, one of which is “Get Into” that focuses on preparing the young people with the skills in teamwork, problem solving, responsibility, and communication.

After the pilot programme, Straw said 96 per cent of the young people trained ended up in workplaces after completing the programme.

The second project of the charity, he said, is Enterprise Challenge — a school-based programme helping young people to gain entrepreneurial spirit in their teenage years.

Straw said: “We know the incredible power you have as a Governor, which is why we would like to work with your office to raise the profile of our programmes and also to think about how we can work together to expand the reach of these programmes.”

The charity’s Africa Advisory Board’s member and founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Atedo Peterside, said the charity made the right choice to choose Lagos as its starting point, because of greater economic impact that could be achieved by the programmes.

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