International Youth Day 2023: Career and Personal Development

International Youth Day 2023: Career and Personal Development

by Grace Anaja

Young people are at the core of what we do at Strong Enough Girls’ Empowerment Initiative (SEGEI) and as such in commemoration of the International Youth Day 2023 themed ‘Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World’, we organized a 2-day virtual Career and Personal Development training in partnership with Innocent Chukwuemeka Chukwuma Empowerment Foundation (ICCEF). The first part of the training which was held on Saturday, 12th August included a panel discussion with industry experts, some of whom are alumni of the Evolve Mentorship Program.

The session began with a welcome address by SEGEI’s Founder and Executive Director, Onyinye Edeh-Vincent as over 75 participants from all over Nigeria joined the space. She spoke about the essence of the training which is building the capacity of young people on the knowledge and skills they need to be relevant and succeed in today’s world. Madam Ngozi Amanze, the National Program Officer at UNESCO gave the opening remarks. She celebrated the young people for being a part of the training as they are the change makers of today, and should be at the forefront of achieving a greener and more sustainable tomorrow. Young people possess the power to drive positive change, to adapt, innovate and push boundaries as the world evolves. She encouraged participants to consciously make eco-friendly decisions and become ambassadors for the change in their communities and beyond. “Your ideas have the potential to transform industries, uplift communities and create a more sustainable and inclusive world“. In her final words, she encouraged the youth to be hungry, have the thirst for success and not be complacent. The event was graced by Mrs. Josephine Chukwuma, wife of the late Mr. Innocent Chukwuemeka Chukwuma. She gave her good will message encouraging the participants to hunger for knowledge, be passionate and contribute to the world by providing solutions to existing problems.

Group photo with Mrs. Josephine

The 50-minutes panel session was moderated by Irene Igomu, SEGEI’s Program Officer and among the panelists were Grace Ihejiamaizu-Paul, Hamilton Lamech, Kate Tisdell,  Blessed Mercy, and Toingrick Byanyiko. The panelists shared their growth journey and what inspired them to take on their chosen career path. Hamilton Lamech spoke about the importance for young people to be open to switching careers regardless of what they study in school. They must build their capacity, get training and certifications for what they want to do. Many young people do not know what to do after they graduate. It is therefore necessary to equip them with the information and capacity they need to prepare for the future. Grace Ihejiamaizu-Paul in her response talked on developing curiosity; learning the right skills and investing in personal development in order to give one’s best. Young people should be able to think fast, develop ideas and take action. In her story, Kate Tisdell shared how she sought opportunities even without immediate financial rewards. She said “You have to be hungry. You have to be eager and when doors are not opening for you the way you envisioned, you have to rip them open at times“. Opening the door is not enough, we have to be willing to do what it takes when we enter through the door to the opportunities we desire. Blessed Mercy reiterated  the importance of young people knowing who they are and defining what they want to do. She also mentioned the place of setting goals and solving problems as an entrepreneur. Toingrick Byanyiko’s career switch made her realize that beyond intelligence, young people need behavioural and soft skills to have an edge. She encouraged participants to put in the work; in her words “Stop waiting for a helicopter to drop you at the top of the mountain. Climb!” The guest speaker, Niyi Ojuolape -UNFPA Country Representative to Somalia – explained the skills young people need especially in the labour market, such as digital literacy skills, adaptability, critical thinking, communication skills, emotional intelligence, green skills, and resilience.

Doubtlessly, it is imperative that young people are equipped with relevant skills. This will enable them to navigate the ever-changing job market and secure meaningful employment. By investing in their personal and professional growth, young people can position themselves for success and contribute to the growth and development of their communities.

Group photo with Mr. Niyi