THE Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kashifu Inuwa, has advised youths in Nigeria to develop their digital skills to support government’s effort toward building a digital economy.
Inuwa gave the advice during an online interactive session with Nigerian youths on ‘Education, Employment and Technology in Nigeria: Gaps and Opportunities Post COVID-19 pandemic.’
Global Shapers Community, an international non-governmental organisation, specializing in outsourcing talents, creating jobs and building careers, organized the meeting.
Inuwa said that developing digital skills would help youths to be self reliant in a post COVID-19 era.
He bemoaned how the outbreak of coronavirus has been a global disaster, and called on Nigerian youths to focus and not depend on educational certificates at this time that the world has altered.
He noted further that the unprecedented disruptions to global economy has led to massive loss of jobs to the youths, while pointing out that since as of March, more “than 1.6 billion children and youth were out of school in 161 countries. This is close to 80 per cent of the world’s enrolled students.”
The DG expects that youth unemployment and underemployment will increase with the existence of the pandemic, the statistics will increase.
He expressed the need for careful planning to harness the opportunities the pandemic while noting that “these opportunities can come by using technology as a tool for human capital development.”
Inuwa said that in May, the agency launched a Virtual Academy to enable interested youths to learn some useful skills while schools were shutdown.
He said: “We have 47 different technology related courses and so far 18,000 students have started taking lessons.
“We also launched an innovative challenge for Nigerians to come up with workable solutions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and we got close to 2,000 applicants with lots of interesting ideas from different parts of the country.”
According to him, there will be job opportunities for Content Production, Animation Design for learning, Drones for medical supply deliveries, Robotics in surgeries and telemedicine, as well as Sensors for proximity monitoring.
All the opportunities he said can be achieved if the youths leveraged on digital skills rather than qualifications only.
“At NITDA, we are building Skills Acquisition Centres across the country to bridge the digital gap, because we identified the need for escalating our activities to rural areas.
“We need to improve our technology to beat the pandemic and turn it to a blessing.
“There is certainly a new normal in post COVID-19 pandemic where digital technologies are playing a major role,” he said.