Youth empowerment is a process of increasing the political, spiritual, social, racial, educational, economic strength of the Youth. Also refers to an attitudinal, structural and cultural process whereby young people gain the ability, authority and courage to make decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of others. Youth empowerment generally equips the youth with knowledge. And life skills to make them self-reliant and economically empowered as well as enhance their socio-economic status.
Youth empowerment is very crucial to democracy building and a buoyant economy. The local, state and federal government and non-governmental organizations should be encouraged to provide programs centered on youth rights, youth activism, youth involvement in community decision making, etc. This is because there will be less crimes and criminal activities if the Nigerian youth are engaged in profitable ventures and gainful employment and the society will be at peace.
Youth Empowerment Skills
A skill refers to the natural ability to do something well, usually gained through training or experience. It is an ability to do something, especially because you have learned and practiced it well. A skilled person with expertise in a particular area has the training and experience that is needed to do such. The youths need to be empowered with skills to accomplish various tasks and achieve results. They need a broad range of skills in order to contribute meaningfully to the economy and take their place in the society. There are different youth empowerment skills, some of which include the following;
(1) Manipulative skills: These are skills that involves the use of the hands and body coordination to carry out or perform a task. In manipulative skills, a person learns to handle objects in a skillful or clever way. It also involves working skillfully that is, working with a learned capacity to carry out a task. It is important for the youth to have these skills right from their childhood. Therefore, parents and teachers should train children in manipulative skills and ensure that they practice them.
(2) Life Coping Skills: Coping refers to being able to deal with a difficult problem or situation. It is active problem-solving. The youths need the ability to deal with difficult problems or situations in daily life. Every youth should be good problem solvers. Life is full of challenges that tests strength, skill or ability. Every individual should have the capacity to be able to deal with the challenges as they come. When there are problems or challenges, we need to follow some steps which will help in dealing with those challenges and this in turn gives us better solutions. The steps in dealing with challenges or difficult situations include the following:
(a) Identify the problem or challenge.
(b) Define the problem.
(c) Recognize and accept how you feel about the difficult situation or challenge.
(d) Identify all possible solutions.
(e) Imagine how the same problem might be solved by other people.
(f) Evaluate the strength and weakness of each solution.
(g) Arrange the solutions in a list starting with the least to the best that can be of help.
(h) Make your choice of solution.
When the above steps are taken or followed, you will discover that you are able to cope with the challenges that come your way.
(3) Communicative Skill: Communication is the process by which people exchange information or express their thoughts and feelings. Communication skill, is the learned capacity to be able to talk easily to other people. It is having the capacity to express oneself so that other people will understand. The act of communicating involves verbal, non-verbal and para-verbal component. Effective communication skill will enable you exchange ideas with others, understand other’s perspective, solve problems and successfully archive set goals. Every youth should possess good communicative skills. That is every youth should be able to express yourself, your feelings and your needs in a way that is direct and clear.
(4) Intellectual Skills: Intellectual skills refers to the ability to learn, understand and think about things. An intellectual person is someone who is well educated and interested in serious ideas and spends time thinking about the ideas and discussing them. Intellectual skills are connected to critical thinking that helps to draw conclusions based on a number of things such as evidence through observations, and applying various methods to make judgement about things. Intellectual skills have been linked to critical thinking. This is a process whereby problems cam be recognized in the first instance so that methods of resolving them can be employed. Critical thinking can occur whenever one must figure out what to believe or what to do, and do so in a reasonable and appropriate way. Reading, writing, speaking and listening can all be done intellectually or otherwise. Every youth need to possess intellectual skills as this would give them good critical thinking skills to recognize problems and employ various techniques or methods in solving them. To become intellectually sound is to be well educated. The youths therefore, are encouraged to be determined to acquire intellectual skills.
(5) Artistic Skills: These are skills that have to do with the ability to create or invent things. We can develop this skills by taking part in cultural and creative/art activities or competitions, etc. Examples if artistic skills include creating computer graphics, writing fictions, editing, painting, sketching, drawing, singing, dancing, choreography, playing musical instrument etc.
As a youth, having one or more of the above skills is of great importance and benefit to you and the society at large. Artistic skills in youth prepare them to be active members of the society. The skills enable them to be self-employed and make them to contribute meaningfully to the economy. Today, a lot of youths write books, songs play musical instruments, create computer programmes, etc. for their own benefit and for the benefit of other people.
Agencies Responsible for Youth Empowerment in Nigeria
(I) The Schools: The school’s here include primary, secondary and higher institution level. At the higher institution level we have specialized schools such as technical colleges, polytechnics, universities, etc.
(II) National Agency for Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP): This agency was established in Nigeria to help reduce if not completely eradicate poverty in Nigeria. This is done through giving of loans to youth to establish business in various sectors of the economy example transportation.
(III) National Directorate of Employment (NDE): This is a government agency responsible for the training of all categories of youth for empowerment and capacity building.
(IV) Non-Governmental Organizations: Many local and international organizations also help in empowering the youth in Nigeria example Lion’s Club, UNAIDS, UNICEF, the Red Cross, etc
Importance And Benefits Of Youth Empowerment Skills
The importance and benefit of youth empowerment skills, among others include the following:
(a) It helps prepare youths to be active members of their communities and the society at large.
(b) It helps the youth to secure good jobs in future
(c) It helps to prepare youth for leadership positions at work and in the country at large.
(d) It helps youths to take decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of other people.
(e) It helps the youths to function as an important part of a group or team.
(f) It enables youths to overcome obstacles in life or work environment.
(g) It enables youth to contribute meaningfully to the economy.
(h) It helps the youth to take their place in the emerging technology-driven society.
(I) It helps the youth to be able to cope with life challenges and proffer solutions to the challenges.
(j) It enables the youth to set goals and make a plan to succeed in what they most desire.
Youth is the time of life between childhood and adulthood. Youth empowerment is an attitudinal structure. In this post we have been able to discuss youth empowerment as a process of increasing the spiritual, political, social, racial, educational and economic strength of youths. We also referred to it as an attitudinal, structural and cultural process whereby young people are given the ability, authority and courage to make decisions and implement changes in their own lives and the lives of other people. We also discussed youth empowerment skills which is the learned capacity to carry out a task and achieve positive result. Some of the youth empowerment skills that would help the youth as discussed in this post include, Manipulative skills, life coping skills, communicative skills, intellectual skills, and artistic skills all which helps to prepare youth for leadership positions and to become active members of their communities.
Also some institutions responsible for youth empowerment in Nigeria were mentioned as being the school, the National Directorate of Employment, the National Agency for Poverty Eradication Programme and some non-governmental organizations.