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DigifyNg: Creating solution to Nigeria’s unemployment crisis through digital skills

It is no longer news Nigeria’s economy is bleeding and leaving little opportunities for millions of job seekers to earn a living amidst a growing youthful population of graduates. As at Q3 2018, the number of unemployed people (completely unproductive or did absolutely nothing) in Nigeria was 9.7 million. That is more than the entire population of some African countries.

A detailed look at the unemployment numbers is even more daunting. Out of those 9.7 million people, 3.1 million or 32percent have been unproductive for more than 3 years. According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics unemployment rate was reported at 23.132 percent as of September 2018 and is projected to hit 33.5 percent by 2020 a burden made clearer with the over 500,000 Nigerian graduates from various higher institutions every year.

To make a dent in the unemployment numbers DigifyPRO Nigeria, a not-for-profit initiative facilitated by Digify Africa (a digital skills academy based in South Africa) and supported by Facebook, in the last one year have been training unemployed Nigerian graduates on digital skills.

From the first day, in the last two years; during the eight-week intensive digital skills training bootcamp, the five different cohorts of 20 unemployed graduates all aged 20-30, feel completely immersed into the world of the digital space getting ready to build their digital skills and ensure they play an integral role in the new wave of digital transformation.

Last month another set of 20 of unemployed graduates joined the already 80 participants that have used the programme as a pathway to secure full time employment in media, marketing and communication firms.

Speaking on the journey to prepare the graduates, Florence Olumodimu, Program Director of Digifypro Nigeria, said the programme has been designed in such a way that participants leave after 8 weeks with readiness skills to thrive in the workplace and offer value to their potential employers.

“We give them an experiential learning experience to get them prepared for new approaches to unlock tremendous opportunities in Nigeria’s digital economy amid rising unemployment in Nigeria.”

Olumodimu describe it as a worrying trend that she said Digify program is trying to tackle by exposing participants to critical employability skills needed to compete in Nigeria and internationally.

“More than one-fifth of the world’s GDP is attributed to digital skills, capital, goods, and services it makes sense for substantial effort to be put into digital skill acquisition to unlock the dividends of digital economy especially now Nigeria is seeking alternate sources in the face of dwindling oil revenue.”

She further explained that one of the many challenges facing Nigeria is the lack of unskilled capital and this a problem DigifyPro is paying attention to by upskilling Nigerian graduates with relevant digital skills and giving them tools to help them flourish and contribute to the economy.

Last year, Okechukwu Enelamah, the former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Nigeria’s said Nigeria digital economy is worth over $88 billion and can create 3 million jobs by 2021.

Olumodimu however believe to unlock these figure there is need to continuously equip the large talent pool with skills to evolve with emerging technology and digital transformations especially in the area of cognitive and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

“Digify Nigeria initiative has produced 80 digitally skilled graduates and is still in the business of training more graduates, and these graduates have been well equipped to be solution providers to the digital community and society at large.”

“Furthermore, it is no gainsaying that this initiative helps to fight the scavenger, unemployment, faced by most Nigerian graduates thereby providing a solution to negative alternatives like fraud, forgery, kidnapping, cyber-crime and other criminal activities which tend to be a resort for some unemployed youths or graduates. Also, the openness of the programme to all graduates irrespective of course of study or class of degree helps bridge the gap between digital skills acquisition and every young graduate.”

“Ultimately, there is a shortage of digital skills globally – DigifyPro has identified this gap and has taken the initiative, 20 graduates at a time to tackle major problems by putting processes in place that allows innovative youths with an insatiable thirst for knowledge to proffer solutions.”

Explaining how the programme works Olumodimu said, “It is an intensive bootcamp powered by Facebook, trainees learn about the full spectrum of digital marketing from SEO to content marketing. They are also given exposure to the industry with weekly live briefs set by agencies, where trainees are able to conceptualise campaigns and show off their talents to prospective employers. Most importantly, in the 8 weeks they are given job readiness skills to ensure that they are able to thrive in the workplace and offer value to their employers.”

Some of the Beneficiaries who spoke to BD Sunday describe the programme as a life changing experience.

Toluwalope Bello now  in a full time employment said her learning experience is all she needed to have a clearer path on what she wants to really do.

“DigifyPro is an amazing initiative, the trainers and facilitators are world class, learning experience is top-notch and transformation is amazing,” she said.

For Israel Oyenigbehin another beneficiary, “DigifyPro Nigeria as a place to be as it helps you gain skills to excel in the digital world”

“With DigifyPro, I have been polished out of a novice into a Content Creator and a Graphic Designer,” Morufat Olapade said.

Another Oladele Fehintola described the program a golden opportunity given to Nigerian graduates and youths to up their skills in digital marketing thereby making them productive for both themselves and to their community. This also avails the opportunity to grow and develop your skills in this line of career path”.

“These testimonies and more are not just sweet words to cajole anyone but honest feedback from young Nigerian youths that have been touched by the initiative and are set to bring mind blowing changes to the industry,” Olumodimu concluded.

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