UNGA 78: Nigeria moves to address unemployment, launches NATEP

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New York, USA.

The Federal Government has launched a national talent export programme, tagged “National Talent Export Programme (NATEP)’’, designed to create at least one million jobs over the next five years as a special purpose vehicle.

The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite, announced this on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), at an event tagged “Positioning Nigeria as a Global Talent Hub in New York”.

According to her, the initiative is in line with President Bola Tinubu’s agenda to diversify the Nigerian economy, create sustainability opportunities and generate about 50 million jobs for the youths.

“NATEP is a key national initiative that will serve as a special purpose vehicle to position Nigeria as a leading global hub for service export, talent sourcing and talent export,” she said.

“As part of our strategy towards achieving this, His Excellency President Bola Tinubu, whose agenda for job creation, we have initiated a national talent export programme for Nigeria, which targets the creation of one million jobs across Nigeria over a five year period.

“NATEP is a key national initiative that will serve as a special purpose vehicle to position Nigeria as a leading global hub for service exports, talent sourcing and talent export.”

The minister said that Nigerian government under the leadership of Tinubu as part of the renewed hope agenda was committed to diversifying the economy and creating sustainable employment opportunities, especially for youths by creating 50 million jobs.

“This is in tandem with the theme of this year’s UNGA, rebuilding trust and igniting global solidarity, accelerating action on the 2030 agenda and the sustainable development goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all”, Uzoka-Anite told a gathering comprising officials of the World Economic Forum and the Microsoft group.

According to her, NATEP will be dedicated to addressing the unique needs and challenges faced by the talent and service sector export industry, laying emphasis on enhancing competitiveness, fostering innovation and driving sustainable growth through trade in services.

Available data indicate that the global talent sourcing industry is valued at $620 billion as at 2020 and it is forecasted to be valued at about $904 billion by 2027.

Uzoka-Anite said Nigeria has the ability to supply top talent for the global service export and outsourcing business, with over 1.7 million graduates from higher education institutions entering the workforce annually.

“NATEP will serve as a dedicated entity to address the unique needs and challenges faced by talents and service export industry. The programme will lay special emphasis on enhancing competitiveness, fostering innovation and driving sustainable growth through trade and services.

“It is noteworthy that the global talent sourcing industry was valued at $620 billion in 2020 and is forecasted to be valued at $904 billion by 2027.

“With a youthful population and over 1.7 million graduates from the higher educational institutions joining the workforce each year, Nigeria has the potential to provide high quality talent for the Global Service export and outsourcing industry.”

While stating that Nigeria is ready to become a global hub for talent export, Uzoka-Anite said that government would take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACfTA) to penetrate the continent’s huge market and target job opportunities in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, among others.

“As a country we have a significant value proposition for regional and global markets for the export of services. We will actively target Greenfield and Brownfield job opportunities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, among others.

“We will take advantage of the African continental free trade agreement to access the African market.

“The four pronged objectives of the NATEP initiative as follows: One to deliver one million service export jobs over the next five years; to increase foreign exchange earnings and revenue for Nigeria; to create economic growth and to stimulate the growth of ancillary industries and support services, and to improve skills and strengthening the Nigerian brand.”

In addition, Uzoka-Anite said: “To put it succinctly, the message from today’s launch of the national talent export programme is clear. Nigeria is ready to become a global hub for talent experts.

“We have the vision and commitment and we seek your partnership and trust as we embark on this mutually beneficial journey. We look forward to partnering with you.”

In his remarks, the Minister of Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, while welcoming the initiative, noted that it was extremely timely as Nigeria was loosing out of the benefits countries like India enjoy.

“I think one thing we’ve not done well, is actually to be intentional, around how we milk that opportunity for our own economic development. And this is why this programme is extremely important.

“I’ve been following the Nigerian story; we’ve been losing a lot of our top talents to the world. So, the implication of that is that we’re going to be losing a significant proportion of people in that space of the academy.

“There’s nothing we can do about it. The best we can ever do is to be intentional about it and turn it into exports and it’s going to become even deeper for us because this becomes a significant resource that we can tap into,’’ he said,

The minister, however, said that the government cannot stop people from moving, nothing that is the reason why the president is extremely passionate about it and He has given mandate to different ministries.

“I’ve got the mandate to train one million technical talent, we believe we can actually do much more than one million and the intention is that we may not have the local tech economy to absorb the one million, so the goal is actually to export, which is also something we’ve been doing.

“But I think in the process of exporting, we, must also be intentional about it. It’s not just about exporting our people by it’s not another slave trade. It’s about making the most of it, we export for value.

“These people contribute and add value to the world, but also they bring value back to us as well. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about meaningful exploitation of talent. I think that’s where Nigeria I want to be,” he said.

The Managing Director of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Dr Saadia Zahidi, who also spoke at the event, promised to support Nigeria’s effort in the new talent export programme.

“The World Economic Forum in Nigeria has a long standing partnership and we are very happy to support this particular effort.

“The forum established some months ago, a skills accelerator in Nigeria and under the leadership of Her Excellency, the minister and others, we hope that we will be able to provide support to NATEP through the continuous rescaling and upskilling of the workforce that will be a part of this initiative.

“The way these accelerators work, we bring in some of the learning and training providers, we bring in some of the companies that have the most to teach very often to the youth that are part of these programmes.

“And of course, bringing together the public sector as well, to then ensure that in a rapid 18 to 24 month period, there’s a rapid setup of not just the learning for those that will be part of this workforce.

“But that there is ongoing systems, change ongoing upskilling, ongoing rescaling so that those skills are not redundant at some point in time,” she said. (NAN

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