Kick off meeting of the cooperation between SOCIEUX+ and the Nigerian Ministry of Labour and Employment, with experts mobilized from the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) and Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour (BMAW), the support of GIZ-SKYE and the EU Delegation. Photo courtesy of Nigerian Ministry (SOCIEUX+ 2023-06).
In 2023, eight activities were carried out in Nigeria, both remotely and in person, in cooperation with local partners in labour and employment services. SOCIEUX+ provided support, through the mobilization of European public experts, to two public employment services in the Edo and Ogun states as well as the federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The interest in these three actions lies in the different strategies adopted to attain a single purpose: increased quality and quantity of employment opportunities for Nigeria’s expanding youth population. The strategies each partner institution utilizes are distinct but complementary: the promotion of self-employment and the micro-enterprise (Edo), the inclusion of the private sector and medium and large enterprises in employment intermediation dynamics (federal ministry), and the strengthening of traditional intervention tools that impact the opportunities offered to job seekers (Ogun).
SOCIEUX+ engagement in Nigeria comes at a time when employment figures are, at least at first sight, rapidly improving. According to Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics, about three-quarters of working-age Nigerians are employed (76.7% in the first quarter of 2023). However, the reality may not be as positive. According to the recently adopted ILO standard of employment, people of working age who participate in any activity for pay or profit for at least one hour a week are considered to be employed. This is a change from the recent past, when a minimum of 20 hours of work per week was needed to be considered employed. So, while figures on employment have improved, its quality maybe has not. In this context, public employment institutions now focus on the transition from informal to formal employment, and on the adequacy of salaries (including predictiveness and duration of employment). When Nigeria’s economy and population are both expanding, decent work and fair employment opportunities are in high demand.
- A step towards this outcome is for public employment services to adopt modern and effective approaches to labor intermediation and employment promotion. To this end, SOCIEUX+ mobilized experts from France (the Ministry of Employment & Solidarity), Slovenia (Employment Services), and Spain (the regional government of Cataluña), facilitated the partner’s assessment of the organization, structure, and functioning of the Ogun Bureau of Job Creation, providing structured recommendations towards intensifying vocational education and training (VET) and continuing training, as well as developing partnerships with private companies. A second activity included a training component on the fundamentals of running a public employment service, the types of services provided to job seekers, working with employers, partnership creation, and communicating with the public about the Bureau’s actions (SOCIEUX+ cooperation 2022-29).
- EdoJobs was even more specific in requesting support to improve services for business owners and strategies for entrepreneurship development. Experts from Austria (the Federal Ministry of Labour), Belgium (Actiris, the Brussels Employment Office), and Lithuania (the State Employment Agency) translated their countries’ experiences into adaptable tools for promoting entrepreneurship that were relevant for Nigerian local industries such as fashion, recycling, and mobile trading. They elaborated a mentorship and coaching guide for EdoJobs’ counsellors and delivered a training on the improvement of counselling services for entrepreneurs. This training included identification of business owners’ needs, a guide towards formalization and business growth, facilitation of access to finance and markets, and building support interventions for innovative and creative approaches in the areas of green and digital transitions (SOCIEUX+ cooperation 2022-30).
- At the federal level, experts engaged with the Ministry of Labour and Employment. For the time being (the last of three activities will be concluded at the end of October 2023), experts from Austria (the Federal Ministry of Labour), Lithuania (the State Employment Agency), and Sweden (Arbetsförmedlingen, the Public Employment Service) and the Nigerian ministry have jointly assessed the gaps and needs for outreach, engagement and provision of services to employers. On this basis, they agreed on and developed an employers’ outreach, engagement, and communication strategy, including the development of key messages and communication channels for a more specific target audience, the design of a digital identity for Public Employment Services, and a system of indicators for performance assessment, conceived as a tool for progressively building on results and reorientating strategies when needed (SOCIEUX+ cooperation 2023-06).
These three actions have been supported by local GIZ offices and staff, as they run in parallel and share strategic goals with the Skills Development for Youth Employment Program (SKYE). This GIZ initiative aims to improve employment opportunities for Nigerian youth through an integrated approach encompassing labour demand (private sector development), supply (TVET), and matching active labour market measures. Locally-based GIZ officials have helped the partner to elaborate an intervention strategy and mobilize SOCIEUX+ support and EU experts to engage in planned activities, including organizational backup.
SOCIEUX+ actions in Nigeria are being conducted with well-prepared partners, enthusiastically engaged in technical exchanges with European peers, with a clear vision of their needs, goals, and future challenges. Nigeria, an emerging economic engine of the African continent, is actively tackling issues in professional intermediation, vocational training, and public-private partnerships, to bring out an economy that is not only competitive but capable of absorbing the ever-increasing demand for quality work, especially by educated women and young people.
Gian Luca Portacolone
SOCIEUX+ Coordinator of Operations