Following Nigeria’s intervention, delegates to the Second Specialized Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment summit which ended in Algiers, Algeria over the weekend, have called for the urgent establishment of the Youth Fund for Employment by the Africa Development Bank (AFDB) in the face of the Future of Work and challenges posed by it.

Contributing to discussions on the closing session of the Africa Labour summit, leader of Nigeria’s delegation and Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige said the Future of Work in Africa would remain bleak without a corresponding new way to effectively tackle the challenges posed through innovations which have changed the manner work and productions are organized.

He reasoned that with the growing number of youths joining the informal labour sector, the immediate take-off of the fund would greatly assist in skills training and formal technical education needed to improve productivity while helping to also formalize the informal sector.

“In Nigeria and I believe is the same in many African countries, emphasis is shifting from limited white-collar job to the expansive opportunities that abound in the blue-collar sector. A great deal of effort is being invested in entrepreneurial studies to make our environment fit for enterprise creation in job rich areas such as agriculture, mining and ICT, all intended to close the existing gap between graduate employability and demands of the labour market.  The new visions should be for graduate entrepreneurs who would not be job seekers but establishers of business for themselves and employing others, especially the high school leavers who normally stream into the informal sector. When this fund takes off and made available to all, will assist in no small measure,” he said.

Also discussing the theme on “Women Empowerment in African Labour Market,” Sen Ngige said apart from women forming about 50% of the African population, their roles in population growth and other multiple societal roles make investment in them an overriding issue. He further noted that “harnessing the development potentials of women is largely dependent on their capacity to participate in developmental process in significant numbers and at high enough levels of responsibility.”

Recounting Nigeria’s experience in women empowerment, the Minister said mainstreaming of women has been a cardinal agenda of successive Nigerian government in line with 35% Beijing affirmative Action, in the appointment of women into managerial positions. He affirmed that Nigerian constitution captured all the relevant sections of the ILO Convention on the rights of women as clearly stated in section 17 (3) (a) the which gives adequate protection to the rights of all citizens against discrimination either in employment or occupation on the basis of sex: (3) (b) which abolished forced labour: and (3) (e) which guarantees Equal Pay for Equal Work without discrimination on the grounds of sex.

“Government went step further to establish agencies such as National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to further protect the rights of women and girls against abuses and slavery. It has also made progress in the improvement of health facilities for women’s health leading to reduced maternal mortality rate,” he added.

He emphasized that the micro credit scheme (Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes – GEES) for market women and farmers as well as the home-grown school feeding programme which the Buhari administration introduced, was designed to insulate them from extant economic shock while relieving mostly rural women of the burden of child feeding and further enhance their domestic economic capability. The Minister concluded that with the degradation of Boko Haram terrorist group, some of the women and girls in captivity have been freed while government was making further efforts to free the rest and stamp out terrorism.  “Women and children are the major casualties of crisis, terrorism and war,” he enthused.