The average Nigerian youth dreams of leaving the country and relocating abroad. It is the rave of the moment where anywhere, but Nigeria seems to hold better opportunities for them. This is perceived as a guaranteed solution to all economic problems. Because this idea that the grass is greener on the other side holds very strong sway with the average Nigerian youth; they will do anything- legal, illegal, risky, or outright dangerous to leave the country. While some people have ventured out and returned with unpleasant stories and real-life experiences, this doesn’t exactly deter the aspiring migrants. It is their thought that maybe the voluntary returnees were just not smart enough, or as tenacious as they will be. After all, what does the average Nigerian have if not the drive to never give up?
The Nigerian government has the scores of unemployed and underemployed youths in their plans. There are technical and vocational training interventions targeted at reducing the unemployment rates through strategic job creation and alternate employment streams. However, with the increased rate of irregular migration, voluntary returns, and repartitions, it is important to also target potential and returning migrants by putting in place reintegration measure and addressing the need to migrate through income-generating employment.
To address this need, SKYE partnered with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) to implement interventions aimed at providing employability and income-generating opportunities for potential migrants and voluntary returnees as a way of reducing irregular migration and reintegrating voluntary returnees into society through targeted counselling and vocational training.
Between November 2019 and November 2020, a pilot skills training intervention targeted 170 participants in Construction, and Health and Beauty sectors. The construction trade, which was facilitated by Honeytreat Trade Academy, had 110 participants, while the Health and Beauty training facilitated by Dr Therapy School of Cosmetology & Medical Aesthetics, had 60 participants.
In addition to the technical knowledge given to trainees in their chosen trades, the training also provided training required to excel in the labour market such as soft skills, attitudes, and entrepreneurship skills training. The training also included one-on-one counselling sessions aimed at dissuading people from irregular migration in an indirect beneficiary stream. In the counselling sessions, the dangers associated with irregular migration were discussed. It also discussed myriads of opportunities available in Nigeria, thus renewing hope for the growth and development of voluntary returnees in the country. These measures ensure that beneficiaries are thus empowered and fully equipped to be well-rounded employees or entrepreneurs in whichever path they choose to take.
At the end of the training scheme, a total of 143 out of the 170 trainees completed the training and were certified in their chosen trades. On the 6th and 9th of November 2020, a graduation ceremony was held for beneficiaries at the respective training venues. The statistical representation and feedback from the training were impressive; 47 (72%) of the 60 trainees from the Health and Beauty training were certified. In the construction trade, 96 (87%) of the 110 trainees graduated and were certified.
During the graduation ceremony, one of the beneficiaries stated that “the training was well thought out, and it was timely. In a time when people are losing jobs, and with a looming recession, the impact so far has changed the economic status of 143 people and this is a laudable feat”.
Starter kits were issued to 39 of this number and the positive impact of this program on the beneficiaries is undeniable as seen from the figures. With an 84% success rate in this pilot initiative, job placement rates and testimonies from beneficiaries, the objective of the SKYE LSTEF partnership to provide employability and income-generating opportunities for potential migrants and voluntary returnees in Lagos State was met.