For the first time in a long while, a Nigerian state is rethinking dividend of democracy and offering empowerment opportunities to those who truly need it, particularly the unemployed youths.
Of course, the youths constitute almost half of the Nigerian population and engaging them productively implies more productivity, positive impact on the gross domestic product (GDP), and most importantly, reduction in crime and restiveness as well as ensuring that they are ready for the new digital future.
It is against this background that the Enugu State Government set up the Enugu Youth Empowerment Scheme (e-YES), an innovative initiative aimed at empowering youths living in the state with training in digital skills. As well, the forward-looking government invented e-YES in recognition of the place of technology and digitization, which are obviously the new currencies in the world today.
The scheme is an initiative of the Enugu SME Center, under the Enugu Human Capital Development Loan Program, and as it rolls out, thousands of youths are expected to be trained and empowered with digital skills in areas such as Advertising, Digital Marketing, Internet Promotion, SMS Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), PPC, and Analytics. Others skills in the scheme include Mobile Advertising, Email Marketing and Content Marketing.
The scheme, according to the Enugu SME Center, is open to all Enugu state youth and jobseekers that have interest in acquiring digital skills. But the intrigue of the initiative is that the program is guaranteeing the participants training loans, certificates and jobs with the private sector to repay the loans.
“Upon completion of the training, participants will be placed into jobs, and within an agreed number of months are obligated to pay back the cost of the training through their respective salaries. This way, they can not only contribute to the economic development of Enugu State and Nigeria at large”, but funds can be recycled to train other youths, the Enugu SME Center said.
Speaking on the initiative, which is part of his critical human development projects, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, executive governor, Enugu state, declared: “Our commitment in developing human capital and ensuring that businesses thrive is reflected in our World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking, which moved from 27th to 3rd”.
In line with his principal, Arinze Chilo-Offiah, Special Adviser, SME Development Head, Enugu SME Center, added that: “Human capital development is important in improving and enhancing the quality of life of the people as well as the private sector ecosystem”. Explaining the rationale for the training-for-jobs scheme, Chilo-Offiah said that they are high-income skills that would enable trained youths to thrive in today’s digital-first world, become innovative entrepreneurs and strategic valuable assets to Enugu State and the international community at large.
According to the Special Adviser/SME Development Head, Enugu SME Center: “Technology will continue to drive change in the workplace, and for one to be a game-changer, one must be able to use technology to solve everyday problems. With this initiative, the Enugu SME Centre is giving the youth an edge, starting now”.
However, to ensure the anticipated result, Enugu SME Center has engaged certified and experienced trainers with affiliation to the Digital Marketing Institute of Ireland; a globally recognized digital training body, to equip the youths with the gainful digital skills. One of the trainers is Wild Fusion Digital Centre, a Nigerian-based digital and technology company.
Speaking on their readiness to deliver quality, Abasiama Idaresit, CEO, Wild Fusion Digital Centre, noted that the outfit has an international certification and validation to deliver quality digital marketing training and job placement for the participants of the program.
“We have trained over 4,000 students since 2014, who are gainfully employed and delivering value to their employers”, Idaresit explained.
He stated that: “Participants will be provided jobs in the private sector and also to provide service for MSMEs, Startups and other such businesses across Nigeria and the globe. Being that we live in a digital age, it is easy for someone to provide service for a company irrespective of geographical location and earn foreign exchange while still residing in Enugu state. This initiative will leverage this as well”.
The e-YES is on and offering youths opportunity to jumpstart careers in the digital world and technology, hence the Enugu State government through the Enugu SME Center is calling on youths from the state, who are desirous of empowerment, to take advantage of the scheme.