By Foday Moriba Conteh
In a bid to bring job seekers and young entrepreneurs face to face with employers and experienced entrepreneurs in the country, the Government of Sierra Leone, through the Office of the Vice President will on Thursday 16thNovember 2023 conclude four days of the second edition of the National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Fair on the theme: “Creating Employment, Entrepreneurship and Growth Opportunities for the Development of Future-Ready Youth,” at the Freetown International Conference Centre on Aberdeen in Freetown.
The National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Fair, which is hosted in collaboration with the Ministries of Employment, Labour & Social Security, Technical & Higher Education, Trade & Industry, and Youth Affairs brought together over 500 promising young Sierra Leoneans from across the country.
The National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship was officially declared opened on Monday 13thNovember 2023 by His Excellency the Honourable Vice President, Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh.
In her welcome address, the Minister of State, Office of the Vice President, Manty Tarawalli, emphasized the National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Fair’s crucial role as a platform for youth to learn, gain exposure, and assess skills for personal development and self-employment.
She underscored the pivotal role of the fair in the Government’s broader strategy to address youth unemployment, announcing the ambitious goal of providing 500,000 jobs for the nation’s youth, furthering that this initiative encompasses a diverse range of opportunities, including both formal and informal employment, waged work, and self-employment with a comprehensive approach aimed at catering to the varied skills and aspirations of the youth population.
Minister Manty emphasized that these 500,000 jobs were strategically crafted to uplift citizens from poverty and that the Government views the National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Fair as a potent instrument to propel economic growth while nurturing individual prosperity as it acts as a channel for the Government’s dedication to providing the youth with the skills and opportunities essential for sustainable development.
The Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Dr Haja Ramatulai Wurie, underscored education’s pivotal role in fostering job creation and entrepreneurship adding that aligning education with market demands is crucial to bridging the gap between academia and industry, ensuring the youth are equipped with pertinent skills.
The Deputy Minister of Employment, Labour, and Social Security, Mohamed Lansana Dumbuya shed light on the youth employment struggles while highlighting the Fair’s role in connecting them to potential employers and diverse career paths. The Fair acts as a beacon of hope, offering avenues for a promising future.
The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Fatmata Wurie stressed the necessity of a supportive business environment and the burgeoning potential in the entrepreneurial sector saying by showcasing various opportunities, the Fair encourages the youth to embrace their creativity, fostering economic growth.
The Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura, shared his personal journey, illustrating how he conquered obstacles to attain education. His story inspired the youth, emphasizing the possibility of overcoming challenges to craft a brighter future. He stressed the need to shun blame and view challenges as transformative opportunities, while the Government’s duty is to nurture an environment conducive to youth success.
Giving his keynote address at the opening of the event, His Excellency the Honourable Vice President, Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, said he is pleased to officially open the second edition of the National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Fair as a four-day networking and learning event for young women and men aged 18 to 35 organized by his Office.
He said that he is thrilled to see over 500 young Sierra Leoneans committed to realizing their full potential and contributing to the development of Sierra Leone.
Honourable Vice President said that the success of the 1st edition of the National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Fair is no doubt a call to the hosting of the second edition. He assured all that Government will continue to support NYEEF as it serves as a building bridge between skills set and opportunities by bring young people, graduates and people with skills face to face with potential employers and entrepreneurs so that they can have a platform where their opportunities will be tapped into so it will be become a starting point for them either to gain access to a decent job or for them to start their own businesses.
Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh said Government is aware of the challenges related to job creation, youth unemployment and as a result His Excellency Julius Maada Bio decided to include job creation as a key pillar for the creation of 500,000 jobs for young people as part of his Big Five Game Changers.
He stated that the NYEEF is in no doubt a practical session in trying to realize Government’s vision of creating 500,000 jobs for young people in the country for the next five years, adding that the event is viewed as a building block for job creation.
“Therefore, in line with his vision for a cohesive, integrated and sustainable job creation strategy, this year at NYEEF Sierra Leone will have a Job Creation Conference which will bring stakeholders together to contribute towards developing the first draft of the National Job Creation Strategy that will lay the ground path for how Government intends to provide opportunities for young people to access job in the future,” the Vice President revealed.