Responding to a major need of bridging the skills gap in the employability of Nigerian graduates, Action Health Incorporated (AHI), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has trained school children on how to equip themselves with 21st century skills at its 26th Teenage Festival of Life (TFL) conference.
TFL is a forum that enables young people and relevant stakeholders to identify the plights facing youths through artistic presentations with a view to enlisting them as critical stakeholders.
The festival with the theme: Empowered for Life-21st Century Skills for Young People, was held at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos.
Dr Uwem Essiet, Co-Founder and Director, Action Health Incorporated, said that most Nigerian graduates are not employable and that the education they have was not preparing them for tomorrow, and beyond the shores of Nigeria, adding that educators and workforce experts had often warned that youths need improved 21st century skills.
“If we want a Nigerian who is employable anywhere in the world, our children need to learn skills that will take them far. For example, unemployed Nigerians can be absorbed in the animation industry space if they have skills in that field. People from France, Germany, United States of America among others are coming to Nigeria with a view to recruiting people here to help them in the animation business. Look at any Nigerian university or polytechnic, nobody is training animators.
“Our school system is not responding and that is just one industry. We are not even talking about Artificial Intelligence (AL). We need to challenge ourselves as a nation and if Nigeria is democratic as it claims, it means that we the people have the right to set the agenda for government,” he said.
He added that without these skills, many youths would continue to be categorised as unskilled, thus would not be able to successfully participate in the global economy in spite of their education.
According to him, advancement in technology, changes in daily interactions is expanding the skill sets and demands on job-seekers beyond traditional jobs.
He said that no fewer than 10 million youths in over 300 secondary schools in Lagos had been impacted through the Festival of Life event and other AHI programmes in the last 26 years.
Also, Head of Operation, Quadron Studio, Mr Temidayo Odunlami, said that there were lots of opportunities in the animation industry for many unemployed youths.
Odunlami said the industry was still growing, adding that many foreign animation companies came to Nigeria in search of talents to intern and work with them.
According to him, the steady increase in quality production in animation films and skits emerging from the creative sector makes the future of animation in Nigeria bright.
Odunlami called for a review of education curriculum to reflect the changing occupational trends that would prepare youths for the future, saying that he had to travel to Canada to gain expertise in its field of practice.
He said research had shown that 21st century skills for young people was more than technological expertise, but content knowledge, literacies and proficiencies that would prepare them to cope with the challenges and opportunities of a dynamic world.
Similarly, award winning rapper, Olanrewaju Fasasi, popularly known as “Sound Sultan”, advised the teenagers to follow their passion and explore opportunities that would enable them to be the best in their chosen careers.
Fasasi said that the changing trends in the world was changing the occupational space, thus presents an opportunity for many youths to explore and leverage for personal, economic and national development.
According to him, while growing, many parents thought that being a medical doctor or lawyer is the only acceptable profession, saying that they classified other professions, especially music for nonentity.
“Today, I am making money from what I love to do. I am 43 years old, married with three lovely kids. I am fulfilled,” he said.
The artist further advised youths to explore opportunities in emerging professions to enhance speedy career growth, saying that being open-minded would assist them to have multiple streams of income.
Fasasi said that aside from being a musician, he was a farmer, an OXFAM Ambassador, promoting agriculture, a basketball player and trainer, and about to launch an App based on its interest.
He advised them not to limit themselves, but invest their talents and passion productively, adding that making a positive impact in all their endeavours should be paramount.