Revisiting World Youth Skills Day Celebration

The International World Youth Skills Day was celebrated on Friday, 15th July, 2016 across the world. The University of Port Harcourt was not left out as it rolled out a series of events to celebrate the maiden edition at the Seminar Hall of the Faculty of Education at Choba Park. This celebration was a major milestone as it was the first ever to be held in the University.
As noted by the Acting Director of the Centre for Sandwich and Skills Acquisition Programme, Dr. Glory Amadi, the World Youth Skills Day was made possible by a declaration of the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, following a proposal tabled by the representative of Sri Lanka and the overwhelming acceptance it received from all member nations. The General Assembly unanimously adopted 15th July from 2015 as one of the international days to be observed and requested governmental organizations, educational institutions and volunteer groups in member states to organize a variety of activities to raise awareness among youths on the impotence of skills development. The theme of this years' celebration was: Skills Rule the World.There couldn't be a more appropriate theme in the era of growing unemployment and youth restiveness.
Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor NdowaLale, represented by the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Professor Femi Shaka,  stated that Centres and Institutes in the University were expected to develop capacity building programmes for youths in the Niger Delta, who are coming under increasing social pressures in the process of actualizing themselves. He disclosed that the Senate of the University established the Centre for Sandwich and Skills Acquisition (CSSA) programmes in 2012 with a clear mandate to drive designated educational and training activities. This is against the backdrop of the challenges of unemployment, underemployment and poverty facing the youths today, especially in the Niger Delta region where there is a crying need to create skills acquisition programmes that would encourage entrepreneurship and self-reliance. He hoped that the event would create the much needed awareness aimed at assisting Nigerian youths to consider skills acquisition as a viable option in addressing the problems of unemployment and also foster national development.

Rivers State Commissioner of Youth Development, PrincewillOgbogbulka, represented by the Director of Youth Enterprise and Promotion Department, Mr.Bogba Christian, also advised curriculum planners to make skills acquisition compulsory in educational institutions to ensure that no student graduates without acquiring entrepreneurial skill.
Given the current global trend, there is no doubt that properly-equipped skills acquisition centres would go a long way in reducing the challenges of unemployment, underemployment and poverty, thereby enhancing the socio-economic lives of Nigerian youths.
The University of Port Harcourt as a major stakeholder in capacity building has an enormous duty in producing graduates with requisite skills that would contribute to the socio-economic and technological development of the country. The establishment of CSSA, the Entrepreneurial Centre, as well as introduction of Entrepreneurial Studies as a University-wide course, are strategies aimed at ensuring that graduates of the University are adequately equipped to face the future with renewed confidence.

The responsibility lies on the shoulders of CSSA to create the needed awareness and enlightenment amongst stakeholders, partner and other governmental and non-governmental organizations outside the University to evolve robust strategies that would ensure that no student graduates from the University without acquiring one skill or the other. The Centre must go beyond the motions of annual celebrations to frontally engage the youths through advocacy and practical programmes. On its own part, Management of the University should also give the Centre the needed support to enable it achieve its onerous mandate. It is hoped that when this is done, the University would be proud to produce the needed manpower that can create employment opportunities. As the theme of the 2016 celebration rightly declares: Skills Rule the World.  

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