The Nigerian government has launched an initiative known as the National Talent Export Programme (NATEP) to create at least one million jobs over the next five years.
Doris Uzoka-Anite, the minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, disclosed this on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States.
The minister spoke at an event tagged “Positioning Nigeria as a Global Talent Hub.”
Mrs Uzoka-Anite said the initiative was in line with the agenda of the Tinubu administration to diversify the country’s economy, create sustainability opportunities, and generate about 50 million jobs for the youth.
She said, “NATEP is a key national initiative that will serve as a special purpose vehicle to position Nigeria as a leading global hub for service export, talent sourcing and talent export.”
“As part of our strategy towards achieving this, His Excellency, President Bola Tinubu, whose agenda for job creation, we have initiated a national talent export programme for Nigeria, which targets the creation of one 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 export.
“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.”
Mrs Uzoka-Anite explained that NATEP would be dedicated to addressing the unique needs and challenges faced by the talent and service sector export industry, emphasising enhancing competitiveness, fostering innovation, and driving sustainable growth through trade in services.
Available data indicate that the global talent sourcing industry is valued at $620 billion as of 2020 and it is forecasted to be valued at about $904 billion by 2027.
The minister said Nigeria could supply top talents for the global service export and outsourcing business, with over 1.7 million graduates from higher education institutions entering the workforce annually.
“NATEP will serve as a dedicated entity to address the unique needs and challenges faced by the talents and service export industry. The programme will lay special emphasis on enhancing competitiveness, fostering innovation and driving sustainable growth through trade and services.
“It is noteworthy that the global talent sourcing industry was valued at $620 billion in 2020 and is forecasted to be valued at $904 billion by 2027. 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 talent for the Global Service export and outsourcing industry,” she said.
The minister said Nigeria was ready to become a global hub for talent export.
She also stated that the Tinubu administration would take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACfTA) with a view to penetrating the huge market in other countries.
“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 four-pronged objectives of the NATEP initiative are as follows: One 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 to stimulate the growth of ancillary industries and support services and to improve skills and strengthening the Nigerian brand.”
Mrs Uzoka-Anite added, “To put it succinctly, the message from today’s launch of the national talent export programme is clear. Nigeria is ready to become a global hub for talent experts. We have the vision and commitment and we seek your partnership and trust as we embark on this mutually beneficial journey. We look forward to partnering with you.”
Minister of Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, in his remarks, commended the initiative, noting that it was timely.
He said, “I think one thing we’ve not done well, is actually to be intentional, around how we milk that opportunity for our own economic development. And this is why this program is extremely important.
“I’ve been following the Nigerian story, we’ve been losing a lot of our top talents to the world. Canada is soaking in a lot, and the UK as well. I think the UK last week or so announced that if you’ve never taught physics, but you’ve studied physics, you can now come into the UK to teach and they’ll give you £10,000 to actually come in.
“So the implication of that is that we’re going to be losing a significant proportion of people in that space of the academy.
“There’s nothing we can do about it. The best we can ever do is to be intentional about it and turn it into exports. And it’s going to become even deeper for us because this becomes a significant resource that we can tap into.
“As you all know, of Africa’s 1.2 billion people, 40 per cent are young people, Nigeria is about roughly 20 per cent of the entire continent. And we have 60 per cent of our 220 million people as young people. So this means we are in a very strong position to power the global economy. But if we do it well, intentionally, it means that we can cash in on that opportunity and also connect our people back to how good the development we want to see in the country but also on the continent.
“We cannot stop people from moving. I think this is why our president is extremely passionate about it. He’s given mandates to different ministries. I’ve got the mandate to train one million technical talent, we believe we can actually do much more than one million. And the intention is that we may not have the local tech economy to absorb the one million, so the goal is actually to export, which is also something we’ve been doing.
“But I think in the process of exporting, we, must also be intentional about it. It’s not just about exporting our people, it’s not another slave trade. It’s about making the most of it, we export for value. These people contribute and add value to the world, but also they bring value back to us as well. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about the meaningful exploitation of talent. I think that’s where I want Nigeria to be.”
Saadia Zahidi, the Managing Director of the World Economic Forum (WEF), promised to support Nigeria’s effort in the new talent export programme.
“The World Economic Forum in Nigeria has a long-standing partnership and we are very happy to support this particular effort. The forum established some months ago, a skills accelerator in Nigeria and under the leadership of Her Excellency, the minister and others, we hope that we 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.
“The way these accelerators work, we bring in some of the learning and training providers. We bring in 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 are ongoing systems, change ongoing upskilling, ongoing rescaling so that those skills are not redundant at some point in time.”
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