MINISTER of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, has emphasised the importance of youth empowerment through digital skills development for sustainable job creation in Nigeria.

Onyejeocha stated this on Monday in Abuja during a study tour and interactive session with a delegation from the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) Senior Executive Course (SEC) 46, at the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

She said the study tour was taking place at a critical time of the nation’s development as the government strives to harness the potential of the digital economy to empower youths and create sustainable jobs for all Nigerians.

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Onyejeocha highlighted the theme of the study tour, ‘Digital Economy, Youth Empowerment, and Sustainable Job Creation in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities,’ as crucial for addressing the nation’s economic and social challenges.

She linked the theme to President Bola Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda, which focuses on youth and job creation, acknowledging the vast opportunities presented by the digital economy.

The minister, however, stressed the need to overcome obstacles like digital literacy gaps, infrastructure limitations and establishing proper regulations.

Onyejeocha said, “The digital economy presents us with a wealth of opportunities for growth and development. It has the potential to revolutionise our industries, create new avenues for employment and drive innovation across the country. However, to fully realise these benefits, we must address the challenges of digital literacy, infrastructure development and regulatory frameworks.

“Empowering our youths is essential for building a prosperous and inclusive society. They are the future leaders and drivers of our economy and it is crucial that we invest in their education, skills and vocational development and entrepreneurial ventures. By doing so, we can ensure that they are equipped to succeed in the digital age and contribute meaningfully to our nation’s progress.

“Sustainable job creation is a cornerstone of our development agenda. We must create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, attract investment and generate employment opportunities for our citizens. This requires us to address issues such as infrastructure development, regulatory reform and access to finance.”

In her concluding remarks, the minister encouraged participants to actively engage with the issues and opportunities on the study tour, emphasising the value of their insights and recommendations for shaping policies and programmes that propel Nigeria’s digital economy, empower its youth and create sustainable jobs for all citizens.

The NIPPS delegation, led by Professor Funmi Paana-Mallam, Director of Studies, expressed gratitude for the warm reception and said their coming was majorly because the Ministry of Labour and Employment is strategically positioned in their mandate and their theme.

She added that the ministry is key to “midwifing” the president’s digital economy policy to provide job opportunities in the country.

Professor Paana-Mallam said, “Our mandate is to carryout in-depth study investigation and to formulate policies. The Ministry of Labour is strategically positioned in our 2024 theme, ‘Digital Economy, Youth Empowerment and Sustainable Job Creation in Nigeria’ and we are here to learn and deliberate the core mandate and look at the issues encountered by the ministry in order to know where we can assist.”

Senior staff of the ministry, heads of departments and agencies under the ministry who participated in the session include the Permanent Secretary, Mr Ismail Abubakar; the Managing Director, Michael Imoudu National Institute of Labour Studies (MINILS), Dr Issa Aremu; the Director-General, National Productivity Centre (NPC), Dr Nasir Olaitan Raji-Mustapha; MD/CEO, Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Maureen Allagoa; Director, TUSIRE, Muhammed Yusuf; Director, PAS, Dr Chris Amadi, among others who shared insights about the functions of various departments and agencies under the ministry.

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