DETOUN OGWO

Nigeria,

Detoun is building a critical mass of human resource base and providing an enabling environment for university graduates to become fully engaged and contribute to the development of their organizations and the nation at large

This profile below was prepared when Detoun Ogwo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.

INTRODUCTION

Detoun is building a critical mass of human resource base and providing an enabling environment for university graduates to become fully engaged and contribute to the development of their organizations and the nation at large




THE NEW IDEA

Nigeria’s largest demographic advantage lies in its teeming youth population who make up 70% of the over 150 million citizens. According to economic outlook reports, Nigeria stands on the threshold of what could be the greatest transformation in its history. Youth, not oil, may very well be the countryʹs most valuable resource. Many young Nigerians are however ill--‐‑equipped for life in a modern economy, with a large percentage taking many years to become productive contributors to society. Whilst jobs are limited for the educated, the challenges of information asymmetries and lack of career services to manage the school to work transition of youths persist. Nigeria’s limited economy size has caused the government to create policies and programs that can diversify the economy and increase the contribution of the informal sector to economic growth and national development. However these plans cannot successfully yield results in an environment with hampered youth potential and high level unemployment. 

Detoun is changing the paradigm, building an institutional structure for unemployment she is using advocacy to create an employability council and creating a voice for the unemployed in the Nigerian society. She is shifting the way the country treats the most productive population also igniting enterprise in young people. She is positioning young people to gain skills that employers want and she is connecting them to resources, she is teaching them how to build a career and not just preparing them to get jobs. She turns the searchlight inwards and help reset the young people to be ready to face what life offers, she also works with employers getting feedback from them as regards the performance of young people who have passed through her program. She also has a Television program that helps to build entrepreneurial skills in young people who want to own businesses and become self employed. 

Detoun is tackling both the demand and supply side by dealing with the short term problems while projecting and working with companies to create internship opportunities for these young people. She plans to put creation of employment opportunities across the region especially through ICT at an institutional level. 

Detoun is changing the paradigm, building an institutional structure for unemployment she is using advocacy to create an employability council and creating a voice for the unemployed in the Nigerian society. She is shifting the way the country treats the most productive population also igniting enterprise in young people. She is positioning young people to gain skills that employers want and she is connecting them to resources, she is teaching them how to build a career and not just preparing them to get jobs. She turns the searchlight inwards and help reset the young people to be ready to face what life offers, she also works with employers getting feedback from them as regards the performance of young people who have passed through her program. She also has a Television program that helps to build entrepreneurial skills in young people who want to own businesses and become self employed. 

Detoun is tackling both the demand and supply side by dealing with the short term problems while projecting and working with companies to create internship opportunities for these young people. She plans to put creation of employment opportunities across the region especially through ICT at an institutional level




THE PROBLEM

The shortage of appropriately skilled labour across many industries in Nigeria is emerging as a significant and complex challenge to the country's economic growth and future development. 

Skills in all and every ramification translates into inventions, services, products, ideas, innovations and best practices that drive the wheel of progress and development. From a studied position, the development of any nation depends to a very large extent on the calibre, organisation and motivation of its human resources. In addition, it is widely held that knowledge, skills, and resourcefulness of people are critical to sustaining economic and social development activities in a knowledge based society. 

However, the gap that exists between what is taught at school and the skills required to perform on a job is so wide that a high percentage of young graduates are said to be unemployable for lack of needed skills that would make them profitable for any employer. This state of affairs has existed in Nigeria for so long that there is urgent need for serious actions to stem the tide and correct the malaise that is robbing the nation of progress in many fields of endeavour. 

Despite high unemployment, many companies are increasingly having trouble filling job vacancies, while there is a surplus of job seekers, some companies are facing shortages in critical areas where they most need to attract and keep highly skilled talent. Job vacancies when advertised attracts young people in their millions who unfortunately lack skills to play active roles in the workforce. The companies spend a lot of time sourcing through their graduate applications to pick just a few eligible graduates for their jobs, letting time and money go to waste. In other words, high unemployment rates does not mean that the talent needed by companies are readily available. Companies end up seeking talents abroad to fill up vacant positions. 

When less legal work is available, more illegal work takes place. Neighbourhoods with elevated crime rates tend to be those where poverty and unemployment hold sway. The challenge of unemployment has given rise to youth restiveness and other social vices in the country and discouraged foreign investment. The unrelenting social upheavals in the forms of increasing crime wave and insecurity in the country are the unfortunate consequences of high unemployment rate. Inability to find work by young people usually creates a sense of vulnerability, uselessness and idleness which in turn heightens the attraction to illegal activities. Conversely, a reduced unemployment rate will bring about improved human development and reduce poverty. It will also reduce crime and insecurity and enthrone an enabling and conducive environment that will attract foreign investment. As unemployment rate in the country drops, the human development index and living conditions of the citizenry will improve and social vices and increasing crime wave which discourage foreign investment will equally reduce. 

Youth-led social innovation is a critical approach for igniting positive change across Nigeria by harnessing the passion, energy and creativity of young people for community transformation. This is predicated on the belief that young people, especially Nigerian youth, if provided with the requisite skills and tools for personal, organisational and community transformation can serve as effective and credible change agents that can help actualize Nigeria’s full potential 

Without a quality human capital, a nation will be weak as there is no human factor that is capable to embark on new initiatives and perspectives. A quality human capital comes from a quality education process. A carefully designed and well planned education system is critical to developing such human capital. Thus, institution of higher learning plays a very important role to produce a human capital that is highly knowledgeable and skillful to meet the demand and expectations of many people. The teaching and learning processes in institutions of higher learning should be capable to provide such knowledge and skills to future graduate.




THE STRATEGY

Detoun is advocating for an employability council within the government and other institutions in order to address the needs of unemployed young people. She is working with the Lagos government and companies like Microsoft and MTN to change the way they channel their corporate social responsibility, she is redirecting their focus on unemployed young people to design ways that they can be trained and make them employable so they can easily be absorbed into available jobs. 

She trains young people to develop skills that employers are looking for. Detoun brings in employers to share with the young people what employers really need in the young people that they employ, those skills and attributes that will place these young people at an advantage over others. 

She has a centre that helps the HR department in different companies to begin a process of recognizing and getting young people understand what companies look out for when they put out applications for job vacancies. She is helping companies figure out how to leverage and develop talent in order to fill positions. She also provides a voice for young people, and puts companies in a position of taking responsibility




THE PERSON

Detoun was born and raised in Nigeria, during her schools holidays she did holiday jobs, She later gained admission into a university in the United Kingdom. After graduation she had to look for a job, without the necessary skill Detoun found it very difficult to secure a job. Eventually she figured out how to tailor her CV and present it in a way that employers wanted, she was able to secure interviews and eventually gained employment. 

On Detoun’s return to Nigeria she got employed by the HR department of the British Tobacco company, in this company she was a part of the team that needed to employ other people to the company, when adverts for vacancies were put out Detoun discovered that thousands of young people applied and showed up for interviews but out of the thousands of applications only a few of them were employable, the young people did not have employable skills. Detoun realised this was a huge problem and she decided to intervene, she started by training 15 young people to go through the employment process in her company. She eventually resigned and decided to get young people the needed employability skills they require to get jobs and also change the mindset of companies to begin to see differently the problem of the unemployed young people in Nigeria.