BusinessDay

Organisation tackles unemployment in Nigeria with SkillPaddy initiative

An indigenous IT start-up has introduced a youth-focused online training platform named SkillPaddy as a response to the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria coupled with incessant ASUU strikes that are keeping millions of young people generally idle.

In a country where over 33 percent of employable population are without jobs, SkillPaddy aims to not only address unemployment but help in bridging the productivity gap which presently exists in many industries. There is 40 million Nigerians youth that are unskilled when the world has become digitalised and everything is digital. Therefore the youth need to have the relevant skills to be able to move themselves forward.

Industries across sectors need skills for innovations and increase production and this is why Kunle Erinle, the CEO of SkillPaddy while launching the product in Lagos recently assured that they have come in to assist in upskilling the youth to match the needed progress in various industries.

“Contribution to GDP and reduction in unemployment are functions of people’s knowledge or skill level and SkillPaddy is here to provide a platform to help the young people gain skills to prepare them for future”.

Erinle futher said, “The world is changing very fast. Today, eight out of 10 biggest companies in the world are in the tech industry. This translates to 10 million jobs in the digital technology space, with one million of these jobs open in Africa. Do you realise that most of these jobs remain open year after year, because people with the right skills are either not applying or none existent? It is a real challenge for us as a continent, and that is why SkillPaddy exists.”

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Erinle said it was the need to create a pipeline of skilled people to fit into job space or they do things on their own necessitated the formation of SkillPaddy

He explained that the company began working with young Nigerians after the global pandemic to help them develop relevant skills in line with the fast-changing global economy. ” With the help of industry experts, the company rolled-out courses on the SkillPaddy platform, with the goal of grafting learners into a community for a three-month program, supported by several partner/sponsor organisations. Rather than leave the learners on their own after training, SkillPaddy will help participants gain on-the-job experience and expand their opportunities with their partners and sponsors”.

On the challenges of internet in rural areas to enable youth to participate in the online coaching, Erinle said SkillPaddy will partner with telecom companies that have penetration across country. This will allow people not only in Nigeria but across the continent to access the platform.

Also speaking at the event, Olatunbosun Alake, Special Adviser for Innovation and Technology to Lagos State governor, Sanwo Olu, agreed that SkillPaddy activity is a catalyst for sustainable economic development and that “rising talent eco-system is indeed the bedrock of development and economic excellence”. He said it is important that companies like SkillPaddy are taking up the responsibility to drive the conversation and create an avenue for partnership involvement for different solutions.

He also there is need to churn out talents three times the rate they are developed today, to fill vacant positions and replace those who are leaving. He said three of five ICT engineers within the range of 22 to 40 years are processing their visas to exit the country.

To justify that Nigeria is not producing enough developers, he said Nigeria produces approximately 114,000 developers against India with figure of 5.8 million, USA with a figure e of 4 million. He also said that number of our STEM graduates at about 72,000 is much more less compared to China with 4.7 million, India with 2.5 million. “Our situation becomes worse as half of the number want to exit Nigeria”.

Alake said there should be collaboration between the public and private sector to build an eco-system of innovation capacities. Panellists from different sectors who discussed need to for skills agreed that prospects exist in various industries that require skill men and women to take up such opportunities.

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