14 Mar ReelSkills For Agribusiness: Training Youth in Agriprocessing
Seven years ago, Chinasa Njom walked into the premises of ReelFruit as a secondary school leaver, seeking a job. With no training, she was ready to start at the bottom, and gain some work experience that would earn her a living and put her on the path to building a career. She was hired on the production floor.
After a few years of work, Chinasa decided that she wanted to go to school part time and further her education in Food Technology. She saw it as a career path that provided her the opportunity to complement the skills she had learned on the job. Since joining the company, she has learnt different skills including data management, email communication, excel usage, as well as research and development of new products. Furthering her education was a dream that would not have been possible without being employed, as the company not only gave her the flexibility but offered her soft loans for her education. As challenging as it was, Chinasa juggled school and work and completed her degree. Her education, as well as her competence, has seen her rise up the ranks at ReelFruit. Today, she is an Inventory supervisor.
Chinasa’s story is not an isolated one. There are quite a number of staff who began their careers at ReelFruit on the factory floor, still working with the company several years after because they are learning valuable skills on the job, while getting opportunities to specialize in certain aspects of agro processing, furthering their education and getting promoted. For ReelFruit, upskilling employees has been instrumental in our business’ growth, and a mission we encourage wholeheartedly.
The need for targeted skills training
Nigeria is facing an unemployment crisis, with a large number of its youth having no access to jobs. On the other hand, Nigerian SMEs, particularly agro-businesses have their fair share of challenges but one that many have in common is the lack of employable candidates with soft and technical skills needed to scale their business.
There is a huge gap between the skills youth have and the skills industry requires. For this reason, unskilled Nigerian youth are often overlooked as ideal candidates for jobs, including entry level positions.
The future is even more bleak for post-secondary school candidates who lack not just skills but qualifications that most companies require for the basic job application process. Unfortunately, many of them do not have access to university education. This is why the ReelSkills program was conceptualized; to train post-secondary school candidates on practical skills that develop them, offer them a path to employment and prosperity. This skills transfer is also absolutely necessary for the growth of the SME sector and for economic development.
The ReelSkills Approach
Through the ReelSkills program, we are condensing our experience and knowledge based on 9 years of operations and will be focusing on key-sub sectors (Processing and Packaging, Field Sales and Distribution and Administration). These focus areas are grounded on the market needs of growth-stage private SMEs in the agriculture sector.
The ReelSkills program aims to match and create 800 jobs for post-secondary school youth in the agri-business sector. This affords them the opportunity to increase their employability, as well as their earning potential over the lifetime of their careers.
The multiplier effect of the Reelskills program is building a pipeline of skilled agri-business talent and fulfilling a workforce need and preparing post secondary school students for exciting careers in agriculture.
What Success Looks Like
Chinasa, who started on the factory floor, is among the select team of facilitators training the candidates on processing and packaging. We hope that our training not only equips young people for access to decent work in the agro processing sector, but breeds more people like Chinasa, who can gain valuable experience and share it with others.
The Reelskills program will be executed by ReelFruit in conjunction with Temploy and Made Culture. The program is funded by the Netherlands Government, under the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) programme.