By Mobo Akpene
“Young people are drivers of change and must be fully engaged in decisions affecting their future. Guided by the United Nations Youth 2030 strategy, I urge everyone to act for youth skills development as a priority, at the Summit and beyond.” UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
World Youth Skills Day is celebrated on July 15 every year since its official recognition by the United Nations in 2014. According to the U.N., the objective of World Youth Skills Day is to “celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work, and entrepreneurship. Since then, World Youth Skills Day has provided a unique opportunity for dialogue between young people, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, firms, employers’ and workers’ organizations, policy-makers and development partners. This year’s theme stresses the importance of providing adequate training to the youth and empowering them with the skills they will need to succeed in the workforce of the future and entrepreneurship.
The upskilling of the African youth has become increasingly important as the continent’s economic transformation is tied to the creativity, innovation, and development of its youth population. The World Youth Skills Day provides us with the opportunity to shed some light on how Sahara Foundation is engaging this vibrant and viable population segment across Africa through its strategic and sustainable skills acquisition and development programs. At the core of our operation is a belief that young people are the drivers of sustainability and empowering them with the relevant skill set required to succeed in the future not only helps to improve their individual lives and communities, but also bolster the region’s economic and social gains.
Sahara Foundation, through its Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) “Catch Them Young and Curious Program” (CTYC), is giving secondary school students in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda the tools and methods required to solve local problems in our communities. The CTYC programme aims to build up an army of smart technologists and thinkers with creative confidence. This afterschool program challenges participants to identify common problems in our society and with the guidance of Sahara staff volunteers, the students work in groups to develop solutions to these problems. This deep dive learning and practical classroom experience helps to shape our young participants into problem solvers and encourages them to channel their creativity and energy towards acquiring important skills that would set them for success in the future workforce and guarantee an improved socio-economic lifestyle.
Another way Sahara Foundation is engaging and empowering the African youth population is through its Sahara Impact Fellowship (SIF). This fellowship was created to inspire young African social entrepreneurs and innovators explore their business ideas deeper and identify ways they can scale social and environmental impact through their innovations. This 3-month fellowship program equips participants with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to grow their businesses into thriving global ventures and in turn transition Africa towards sustainable development and economic resilience. The Sahara Impact Fellowship program combines both virtual learning and in-class experience to teach participants how to achieve financial viability and investment readiness with their enterprises. The fellowship is closed out with the Social Innovators Awards, an event that showcases the incredible innovations of the fellows and rewards outstanding social innovation and ventures.
Sahara Foundation believes in the potential of the African youth. In fact, Africa’s youths are already leading the continent’s path to economic success and designing intelligent solutions that addresses the region’s socio-economic challenges. But there is still so much to do in order to ensure we harness the full potential of our youth population and prepare them to achieve a sustainable and thriving Africa for all. Skills acquisition and development for this segment can no longer be ignored. All relevant stakeholders across the public and private sectors must identify ways to collaborate and support initiatives that fast track and adequately equips the youth population with the skills required to compete in the workforce of the future and explore entrepreneurship for sustainability.
At Sahara, our commitment to advancing Africa positively by investing in its youth population is steadfast. We are an organisation built on the concept ‘Dare to dream’. With operations in over 42 countries, we know nothing is impossible. This is why Sahara Foundation, the corporate social responsibility vehicle for Sahara Group Limited is tasked and committed to engaging society through programs and campaigns that empower the African youth with relevant skills to take charge of their own future and the future of our continent.