By Aja Musu Bah
The International Trade Centre (ITC) in its contribution towards youth empowerment and development, on Tuesday 13 December 2022, awarded toolkits and equipment to 300 graduates during an event held at the Sterling Technical Training Centre in Busumbala, West Coast Region (WCR).
The initiative according officials, was supported by the European Union through the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) and Jobs, Skills and Finance Program for Women and Youth (JSF) but is being implemented by the ITC in coordination with the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS), Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST), Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIRIE).
The event was graced by members from the ITC, the Minister of MoHERST, European Union representatives, graduates, members for the Youth Employment Project (YEP), amongst other relevant stakeholders.
The said beneficiaries are driven from the seven Regions of the country and have completed an intensive training on Technical and Vocational Education.
Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that have equally completed its ‘Andandorr’ Programme were also supported with toolkits.
In his welcoming remarks, Modou Touray, of the ITC, said that ITC is a UN technical agency whose mission is to support small and medium sized businesses in development and transition economics.
He asserted that D5 million worth of toolkits will be distributed among beneficiaries who have undergone the intensive training in order to add value to their creative and skills development.
“In 2018, ITC launched TVET Roadmap (SkYE) in collaboration with MoHERST with the aim to avail opportunities for young Gambians to acquire skills to enable them be connected to the bigger market, and boost their businesses,” Mr Touray said.
He added that they have partnered with 12 training centres in which along the line 800 jobs were created as a result of the training and advised them to utilise their skills in a meaningful manner so that it can yield dividend for their personal growth as well increase national development.
ITC representatives affirmed that the toolkits and equipment will add value to their businesses and advised them to take their individual businesses seriously.
Aisha Sillah, the Project Officer of the EU-Gambia asserted that skills development and entrepreneurship are essential pillars for job creation and value addition, adding that the EU has prioritised Technical and Vocational Education and Training in their projects and programs.
“More than 7000 young Gambian have benefited from skills training supported by the EU funded ‘Tekki Fii’ program, while 3000 Gambian youth benefited skills training support under the Jobs, Skills and Finance program for women and youth,” Ms Sillah recollected.
She emphasised that the EU will continue working with partners to build on the gains from the current initiatives and as well support innovative approaches to support skills development that will ensure young people find jobs, that they can add value to products and services and are able to generate wealth for themselves and The Gambia.
Mr Pierre Gomez, Minister for Higher Education, Research Science and Technology (MoHERST), commended ITC and other relevant stakeholders for pushing the TVET agenda forward with the aim to empower youth self-employment.
Minister Gomez vehemently emphasised the need to learn and for people to change their mindsets towards national development innovations and creativities by fully embracing TVET education.
“We are sitting on a social time bomb, and as a result youth most transform their objectives into meaningful results for their development through self-reliance, empowerment and improvement as well as collectively build the nation,” He asserted.
Therefore, he encouraged the beneficiaries to further their career in order to boost their businesses, and equally urged partners to tirelessly work with the Gambia government in fighting the crusade of higher education, especially TVET.
Messrs Samba Sowe and Burang Sanneh both beneficiaries acknowledged ITC and partners for according them the opportunity to acquire significant skills that will transform their lives positively.
They promised to continue the challenge of becoming fully empowered and self-employed, and also encourage other youth to become self-independent so that youth unemployment rate can be drastically reduced in The Gambia.
The toolkits that were distributed among beneficiaries includes; catering equipment, building and construction materials, solar installation tools, agro business materials, sewing machines, milling machines and amongst other relevant valuables.