The Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) stated in its 2019 macroeconomic outlook report that the Nigeria Leather Industry is projected to generate over $1 billion by 2025. However, while Nigeria is a net exporter of raw hides and skins including semi-processed leather, it is also a net importer of finished leather products with a total import of $500 million worth of leather annually. This data showed the need for value addition in the Nigeria leather value chain to upgrade its position in the regional and global trade of leather commodities.
To contribute to the development of skills in the leather value chain – particularly the finishing and repair of leather products – the programme Skills Development for Youth Employment – SKYE, and the Edo State Government Skills Development Agency also called EdoJobs partnered to implement a 60-day training on leatherworks entrepreneurship programme in Benin City. The leather training was held from the 16th of November 2020 to February 19th, 2021 at the Edo Innovates Benin City.
To equip selected beneficiaries with the skills needed to become self-reliant and increase their prospect of sustainable economic reintegration through gainful employment, the leatherworks entrepreneurship vocational training targeted and reached 50 returnees and 50 persons living with visible disabilities. Each class was limited to 20 trainees and 5 trainers, this was done to enhance class management and comply with the COVID-19 prevention guideline. The outline of the training was based on the National Occupational Standard (NOS) levels 1 and 2 for Leather Works. A session on digital marketing was included in the training to expose the beneficiaries to the knowledge of how to market their products using the various digital and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. At the end of the training, the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) accessed the trainees’ competence, knowledge, skills, and attitude as a pre-requisite to awarding them professional certificates.
During the graduation ceremony which took place on the 16th of April 2021, the beneficiaries expressed great joy that they are now self-dependent, giving them new hopes in their motherland. They showcased their leather products such as shoes, belts, sandals, wrist bands, and bags. At the ceremony, the beneficiaries also received their NABTEB accredited professional certificates. Major economic stakeholders present at the occasion also praised the effort of the SKYE programme and Edo State Government partnership. They also encouraged other private and government bodies to promote activities align towards the achievement of inclusive and equitable quality education, decent work and economic growth and other United Nations SDGs.
To further enhance their newly acquired skills through mentorship, the Edo State Government made a leather production workspace at the Edo Innovation Hub available for the trainees to practice while earning an income. Since the end of the training, over 60% of the trainees have recorded an increase in their income by being employed or self-employed. Some have even testified to being able to raise enough funds to buy tools that hence their work.