July 15, 2020 Whitney van Schyndel

Call for Solutions – Nigeria

Closed - Deadline: 14 September 2020

CFYE wants to co-invest in innovative private sector-led initiatives that provide businesses with access to suitably skilled personnel and realize employment for youth in either 1) Digital Jobs or 2) Technical Craftmanship. All projects should result in decent employment for at least 500 young people (aged 15 to 35), especially young women. Any Nigeria specific questions can be sent to nigeria@fundforyouthemployment.nl.

The Challenge

Today, more than half of the youth population in Nigeria (25 million) is unemployed or underemployed. Nigeria has a large population of job seekers that grows every day. There are not enough jobs available for all young people entering the labour market. This situation has become more challenging due to the current COVID-19 crisis’ related slow-down of local and international markets. This results in struggling Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and related layoffs of formal wage employees or even bankruptcy.

Our research confirmed that the skills of the Nigerian youth don’t match with available jobs or with sustainable self-employment requirements. Bridging this current skills gap is at the core of improving employment outcomes and increasing productivity and growth in Nigeria.  Many young people don’t know which skillsets makes them ‘employable,’ including notably soft skills, technical specializations or business development and management skills for self-employed youth. In addition, the skills that they do learn don’t align with expectations of the private sector. Most youth combine education with side-jobs, but these are generally not related to their education and/or career ambitions. Although internship experience is valued by employers, most youth cannot afford to take unpaid internships.

Employers in high potential sectors stress that they have unmet demand for skilled technical workers as well as digital skilled staff. This demand covers both secondary and tertiary level skilled workers. Both technical and digital jobs are considered an important part of ‘the future of work’ and will likely offer a growing and sustainable demand for labour going forward. High value sectors include Agriculture, Trade, ICT, Construction, Manufacturing and Financial Services. Emerging sectors are Renewable Energy, Transportation, Automotive Industry, Creative Industry, Entertainment, Education and Hospitality.

Call for Solutions

Our research has shown that despite a wide range of challenges to youth employment, there is clear potential for young women and men to find decent employment within selected labour categories. Rather than sector-specific opportunities, we observe the need for jobs related to specific skillsets and ‘ways of working’. These type of jobs, notably digital jobs and technical craftmanship, are cross-sectoral. Based on high value and high growth potential, we foresee most labour demand in the eight selected sectors. In addition to unmet labour demand, the following two windows match what youth told us about their own needs and interests. Both job families allow youth the flexibility to work across different sectors. Digital jobs likely build on existing skillsets and/or interests and offer an attractive working environment for youth. Technical craftmanship provides youth with a strong skillset that can be obtained through practical and locally available educational trajectories.

Therefore, our call for solutions specifically applied to digital jobs or skilled craft work for youth. We invited all private companies with ideas for projects that fit within the two windows detailed below to present proposals for co-funding from CFYE.  All projects should result in decent employment for at least 500 young people (aged 15 to 35), especially young women.

Windows

As we have identified two thematic areas with opportunities for youth employment, we have split our call for proposals into two windows. Each applicant must choose whether to submit a proposal for Window 1: Digital Jobs or Window 2: Technical Craftmanship. Applications that do not match either of these windows (and thus type of employment opportunitieswill not be considered. 

Digital Jobs

CFYE was calling for innovative and demand-driven projects from either private sector organizations or private sector-led consortia that take on their unmet demand for qualified digitally skilled staff. Bridging the digital skills gap, especially for young women who are particularly affected by the digital divide, will increase youth’s prospects for a sustainable, resilient career based on unmet labour demand and a universally relevant skillset that allows them to easily switch between sectors or even employment versus self-employment.

 

Definition: Digital jobs are defined as positions in which digital skills are essential.  Digital skills include a range of abilities to use hardware, software, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information. This includes use of – for example – Microsoft Office functionalities such as Word and Excel, client subscription and information apps (including for farmers), mobile money transfer systems, website and app backends, webshops, content management systems, digital design applications or online marketing platforms. Digital jobs can be available in a wide range of sectors as they refer to a way of working and are not focused on the IT sector alone.

 

The Nigerian economy is undergoing a transformation as it shifts from its traditional agriculture-centred model to more technology-driven production and service provision models. Businesses increasingly use technology to support their operations, for example through use of e-commerce, e-payments and digitally-driven management models. The COVID-19 crisis has rapidly increased this need as businesses need to re-think their business models to accommodate the new social distancing reality. Digital jobs are required in almost any sector.

 

On the labour demand-side, research revealed that businesses have growing demand for staff with suitable digital device and system operating skills for computers, tablets and mobile phones. These skills are considered very relevant skillset for entrepreneurial activities as well.

 

On the labour supply-side, (semi-) skilled youth are generally attracted to innovative and/or digital ways of working and are quick learners with a relatively high base capacity in this field. A significant proportion of youth in Nigeria, including women, either already have significant digital skills or have the ability and aspiration to easily learn them.

 

We invite companies and private sector-led consortia to submit their innovative ideas for projects that either create new digital jobs, improve the decency of existing digital jobs, match youth to (new or existing) digital job opportunities or allow companies to sustain jobs that would otherwise have disappeared due to the COVID-19 crisis. They include:

  • The jobs can either be employment or self-employment based, and may include:
    • jobs that are dependent on digital technology to be performed such as online freelancing work (graphic design) or online marketing;
    • jobs that are directly created through the ICT sector and use digital technology, such as mobile app development; or
    • jobs that were originally done manually but can be improved/enhanced by the use of digital technology e.g. field agents use of tablets.
  • Projects should reach (semi-)skilled youth that have finished at least secondary education.
  • At least 50% of each project’s beneficiaries should be young women. Projects targeting young mothers and/or single mothers are particularly welcomed. Projects placing women in male-dominated sectors/positions are also welcomed.
  • Digital jobs may be in any sector, but we will prioritise projects in the following high potential sectors: Agriculture, Trade, ICT, Construction, Manufacturing, Renewable Energy, Transportation, Creative Industry, Entertainment, Education and Hospitality.

Technical craftsmanship

CFYE was calling for innovative and demand-driven technical craftsmanship projects from either private sector organizations or private sector-led consortia that fulfil unmet demand for qualified technical craftspeople. Bridging the technical skills gap in combination with effective matching will allow youth, especially for young women, to capitalize on the existing demand for technically skilled workers.

 

Definition: Technical craftmanship comprises technically skilled manual labour positions where workers need to exercise considerable independent judgement. These jobs require formal or informal technical and vocational training and apprenticeships, but usually no tertiary level education. Examples of craftmanship jobs are construction and manufacturing workers such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters and welders; food processing factory staff and garment makers.

 

The Nigerian economy is undergoing a transformation as it shifts from its traditional agriculture-centred model to more technology-driven production and service provision models in services and value-added production sectors like manufacturing. This goes along with significant demand for technically skilled or ‘craft’ labour.  Enterprises from a variety of sectors indicate they are often unable to find relevantly skilled craft workers.

 

On the supply-side, youth are generally not well aware of the high-employment potential that comes with technical craft education and practical work experience. Young women still face negative stereotyping around traditional roles and gendered expectations when it comes to taking up technical jobs that are considered men’s jobs in selected sectors. Both young men and women that have received skills training are rarely effectively matched to available jobs. There is a growing awareness in Nigeria of the possibility to have a career outside of the traditional prestigious jobs (‘gold-collar jobs’ like doctors and lawyers), and university and TVET graduates find alternative paths. The COVID-19 economic fallout may further speed up this trend of alternative careers, either or not for lack of alternatives.

 

We invite companies and private sector-led consortia to submit their innovative ideas for projects that either create new technical craft jobs, improve the decency of existing craft jobs or match youth to (new or existing) technical craft job opportunities. The following requirements apply:

  • The jobs can either be employment or self-employment based.
  • Projects should reach (semi-)skilled youth that have finished at least secondary education.
  • At least 50% of each project’s beneficiaries should be young women. Projects targeting young mothers and/or single mothers are particularly welcomed. Projects placing women in male-dominated sectors/positions are also welcomed.
  • Demand for skilled craftwork can occur across all sectors, but we will prioritise projects in the following high potential sectors: Agriculture, Trade, ICT, Construction, Manufacturing, Renewable Energy and Transportation.

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Eligibility Criteria for Both Windows

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment will apply a competitive process to select the projects that will receive a grant. That means that only those projects that present a clear and convincing pathway to employment, lead to significant and sustainable results in terms of decent employment for youth, with a focus on young women, and can demonstrate high value for money will be selected.

  1. Projects need to be focused on either digital jobs or skilled craftwork for youth.
  2. Projects should create, match, improve or sustain at least 500 jobs (of which at least 50% are women). We are looking for projects that are effectively getting people employed within project duration (~2 years). In the application, we will therefore assess whether the project presents a realistic and convincing pathway to get at least 500 people in jobs (projects only focused at skilling youth without evidence of effective matching afterwards will not be considered).
  3. Only private companies can be lead applicant, but they may partner with other organisations such as NGOs and government institutions.
  4. The minimum contribution of the Fund is € 200,000. This should be matched by a co-investment that is at least equal to the grant requested.
  5. The employment conditions of the jobs resulting from the projects should be decent. For any job, the working week should be at least 20 hours and at most 40 hours – with occasional overtime. Safe physical working conditions should be ensured. Following government guidelines, the gross income for one full-time equivalent (FTE) should be at least NGN 30,000 but ideally reflect family-specific living incomes[1].

[1] We recommend relating to wageindicator.org

Competitive Process

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment will apply a competitive process to select the projects that will receive a grant. That means that only those projects that present a clear and convincing pathway to employment, lead to significant and sustainable results in terms of decent employment for youth, with a focus on young women, and can demonstrate high leverage will be selected.

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The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and managed by Palladium, in partnership with VSO and Randstad. This call for concept notes is the first stage of the application process, and successful applicants will progress through to the next round, where they will be invited to submit a detailed proposal and business case.

 

Featured Image: © NESA by Makers

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