The federal government has taken a step towards creating one million jobs for the nation’s youth through a new initiative backed by Microsoft, known as the National Talent Export Programme (NATEP), designed to source and export Nigerian talents.
The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, presided over the official launch of the initiative at the Microsoft Office, 122 5th Avenue, New York, on Friday, as part of the sideline activities of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Speaking at the occasion, which also attracted experts from global tech giants such as Meta, Google, and Amazon, she said that though the programme is vital to Nigeria, other countries will eventually enjoy the benefits.
She noted: “The Nigerian government, under the leadership of President Bala Tinubu as part of the renewed hope agenda, is committed to diversifying the economy and creating sustainable employment opportunities, especially for youth, by creating 50 million jobs.
“This is in tandem with the theme of this year’s UNGA: rebuilding trust and igniting global solidarity, accelerating action on the 2030 agenda, and the sustainable development goals towards peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all.
“As part of our strategy towards achieving this, His Excellency President Bala Tinubu, whose agenda is job creation, has initiated a national talent export programme for Nigeria, which targets the creation of 1 million jobs across Nigeria over a five-year period.
“NATEP is a key national initiative that will serve as a special-purpose vehicle to position Nigeria as a leading global hub for service exports, talent sourcing, and talent exports.
“NATEP will serve as a dedicated entity to address the unique needs and challenges faced by talent and the service export industry.
“The programme will lay special emphasis on enhancing competitiveness, fostering innovation, and driving sustainable growth through trade and services.”
While observing that the global talent-sourcing industry was valued at $620 billion in 2020 and is forecast to be valued at $904 billion by 2027, Anite stated that with a youthful population and over 1.7 million graduates from higher educational institutions joining the workforce each year, Nigeria has the potential to provide high-quality talents for the global service export and outsourcing industry.
She added: “As a country, we have a significant value proposition for regional and global markets for the export of services.
We will actively target greenfield and brownfield job opportunities in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, among others.
“We will take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to access the African market.”
The minister explained that the four-pronged objectives of the NATEP initiative are to deliver one million service export jobs over the next five years; to increase foreign exchange earnings and revenue for Nigeria; to create economic growth and stimulate the growth of ancillary industries and support services; and to improve skills and strengthen the Nigerian brand.
“As it seeks to achieve these objectives, NATEP will ride on some strategic advantages of the Nigerian market that position us as a service export and sourcing destination of choice,” she said.
Anite remarked that NATEP will focus on nurturing the Nigerian service outsourcing industry’s large pool of talented and skilled professionals to ensure that clients have access to a skilled and adaptable workforce that can meet their diverse business needs.
In his remarks, the Minister of Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, welcomed the initiative as extremely timely, saying: “We have been losing our top talents to the United Kingdom.
We cannot stop people from moving. I have the mandate to train 10,000 top talents. It’s about meaningful exportation for meaningful value.”
He added: “In the global economic structure, there’s a major part that we don’t talk about enough, which is the workforce or talent.
You may have the best intentions, resources, and plans. But if you don’t have the workforce to execute it, you won’t be able to accomplish much.
And this is how the world is structured. This is why, when we talk about immigration, countries don’t talk enough about intentional immigration and how they encourage the top talents in the world to come to their countries.”
Speaking at the conference event, Saadia Zahidu, the Managing Director of the World Economic Forum (WEF), expressed the hope that the forum will be able to provide support to NATEP through the continuous rescaling and upskilling of the workforce that will be a part of this initiative.
She added: “The way these accelerators work, we bring in some of the learning and training providers, some of the companies that have the most to teach, very often to the youth that are part of these programmes, and of course, bringing together the public sector as well, to then ensure that in a rapid 18 to 24 month period, there’s a rapid setup of not just the learning for those that will be part of this workforce, but that there is ongoing system change, ongoing upskilling, and ongoing rescaling so that those skills are not redundant at some point in time.
“We also then ensure that the country that is setting up the accelerator is part of a global learning network.”
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