Building youths’ capacity for global jobs

Finding suitable jobs nowadays has been a difficult task for young people in the Niger Delta. But the news from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) about millions of jobs for people with advanced digital skills in the coming years is good for many Nigerians. One of them is the Chief Executive, Start Innovation Hub in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, Hanson Johnson. He is empowering young people to develop technology solutions to local and global challenges, DANIEL ESSIET writes.

Finding a good job these days is proving an uphill task for young people in the Niger Delta. But the news from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that tens of millions of jobs will be available for people with advanced digital skills in the coming years is good one for many Nigerians
One of them is the Chief Executive, Start Innovation Hub, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Hanson Johnson, who runs a dynamic platform, where young people are brought  together to develop solutions to both local and global challenges.
According to him, the digital economy is the attractive location for candidates looking for international jobs. To take advantage of this, he said it was the right time to equip young Nigerians with job-ready, digital skills to explore   global emerging employment opportunities.
While digital jobs are  providing opportunities for young people globally, he said the sector requires workers with advanced digital skills.
A lot of Nigerian job seekers, particularly, those from the Niger Delta, according to him, may not be able to find such jobs because they lack the right set of skills, which those employers are looking for.
Consequently, Johnson is leading a campaign to get every young person in the region to learn skills to get decent jobs through his Project Create. The programme is designed to equip youth with in-demand digital skills for the global digital economy.
Since the world has become a global village, Johnson is training young people, who can engage in virtual freelance work for clients located in United States and Europe.
The programme, which is mainly technology driven,   has courses such as android development, web development, digital marketing, blogging, hardware repairs and maintenance, graphics design, hardware, video editing and motion graphics. The project   provides career readiness, exposure and occupational training services to young adults between 15 and 25 years old.
According to him, Project Create exposes young people to digital skills at an early age and increases the likelihood that they will pursue tech-related education or employment opportunities.
“It encourages youth to enter self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities by using online work platforms to connect to online freelancing work,” he said.
Some of his trainees are taking advantage of the global market for online freelancing, which is large and growing.  They earn from $50 to $1000 per project.
One of the success stories from Start Innovation Hub is Nsikak Thompson,  a leading Android Developer, who doubles as Google Developers Group (GDG Uyo Team Lead). He was  one of the selected Africans attending Google I/O 2018 in Mountain View, California, Google’s annual developer conference.
An app maker, Thompson boasts clients across the state and is one of Akwa Ibom’s little-known cache of star mobile app giants. One thing outstanding about Thompson and other products from Start Innovation Hub is the agility to keep up with the fast-moving technology and produce apps based on new ideas with user-friendly presentation choc-a-bloc with features.
Another success story is Co Lead, Facebook Developer Circle, Uyo, Ekene Christian, who said so much creativetech entrepreneurship   success is coming out of Akwa Ibom. According to him, upcoming successes are just scratching the surface of what young entrepreneurs from the region are capable of.
Chichi Basil, a computer engineering student from University of Uyo, who enrolled in the graphic design  class is another success story. She recounted her Project Create experience, stating that the programme was the turning point of her life. She said she has been opened to a new world of practical learning and opportunities in the industry.
“Project Create has been of great influence in my life, most especially helping me have a career start in the digital graphic  industry,’’she said.
As the Niger Delta is transforming itself for the future, Johnson envisages a data-sharing economy as a means for offering people-centric services, which improve people’s lives, making the area a happier place. According to him, smart cities are the future and data is the bedrock upon which a smart city is built.
To this end, he is working on placing the area at the forefront of global data management efforts and driving the growth of the knowledge economy in the region and beyond.
Johnson is also empowering tech entrepreneurs, who deliver ground breaking solutions in payments, banking, telecom, hospitality, retail and travel. According to him, preparing youths for the future global economy is a critical factor for achieving the government’s strategic objectives of creating a smart innovation-driven economy, and there is already a real talent crunch.
Since he started, Uyo, the capital city of Akwa Ibom State has established itself as destination for sourcing young tech innovators.
Consequently, the state is experiencing a startup boom, with scores of bootstrapping entrepreneurs setting out on their own.
In fact, most of the innovations in the region are occurring here and access to a pool of talent has added to the mix, which the corridor offers the perfect landscape for entrepreneurs.
A lot of young people in Akwa Ibom, according to him, are making break-throughs, pushing boundaries and exploring opportunities in the world.
Young Nigerians, Johnson said, are highly entrepreneurial, but need more help than they’re currently providing, particularly in the technology space.
To help pave that proverbial road, he said governments and the private sector need to continue working together.
One way they can do this, according to him, is by funding incubators, which provide young startup businesses with a variety of services from funding, mentorship and business assistance, to education and training, rooms to work from – and even sleep in.
One of his partners, Mr. Victor Etudor, disclosed that using digital skills has been able to help SMEs and micro-entrepreneurs to expand their customer-base with no need of a storefront presence.
Stakeholders agreed that Uyo has fast become the tech hub of the Southsouth. The place has drawn investment from Google as well as hundreds of tech startups.
Last week, it hosted Dev Fest, a community-run event that can offer speaker sessions across Google product areas.
The Programme Manager, Developer Ecosystem for Sub-Saharan Africa, Google, Aniedi Udo-Obong, said overall, the startup growth in Akwa Ibom is moving at an incredible pace.
He said professionals in the state are looking to change jobs, having acquired skills, qualifications and experience in information technology (IT).
Despite the challenging job market, he said highly skilled professionals are able to find lucrative opportunities at the global level. He said Nigerians are getting jobs as remote developers, adding that Nigerians have done amazingly well as tech entrepreneurs with some of them standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the world’s most innovative tech hounds.

Building youths’ capacity for global jobs Building youths’ capacity for global jobs Reviewed by on November 28, 2018 Rating: 5

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