Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe (left); Scholar, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji; Group Head, Inclusive Banking, Ope-Wemi Jones and; Deputy Managing Director, Roosevelt Ogbonna, during Toyosi’s visit to the bank.
The allusion between wealth and strength of any nation through its youth, affirms that the quality of a nation’s youth determines the kind of future the nation will have. This assertion leaves Nigeria at disequilibrium of either harnessing the strength of its youthful population by empowering them for the future of leaving them to seek survival by any means. While government appears to be making some efforts, the private sector that needs the youth for productivity cannot afford to ignore the potential. FEMI ADEKOYA examines the roles by some operators.
Latest statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that over 27 million Nigerian youths were unemployed, while over 70 million people were under-employed, as unemployment rate rose to 14.2 per cent while underemployed rate rose to 21.0 per cent from 19.7 per cent. These numbers are expected to rise except there is a turnaround in the economy.
The figures above show that two out of three Nigerians are young people. The youth have the verve and the talents to transform Africa’s largest economy into an enviable country. But they are also time-bombs, if left to continue roaming the streets of major cities without skills and jobs.
While several potential may have been decimated through terrorism and other forms of civil unrest, especially in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, the need to maximize available human resources for optimal productivity is reinforced now as the nation struggles to come out of recession.
Leading the pack, Access Bank partnered with the National Youth Service Corps to build integrated skill acquisition and vocational centers in the North-East and empower 500,000 young Nigerians with different vocational skills that would help them alleviate poverty, drive sustainable economic growth and live better lives.
With the construction of the centres already commenced in Gombe state, serving Corp members will be deployed to the centers as part of their compulsory one year service.
By partnering with a very strategic youth-focused government agency as the NYSC, Access Bank is helping to shape the future of Nigeria through its investment in youth development.
Putting young people back to work across the nation
By investing in Nigeria’s youth population, Access Bank have shown outstanding corporate leadership and commitment to addressing this problem.
Through its Access Entry Level Training Programme, young Nigerians across the nation undergo a 4-month intensive training program at the bank’s School of Banking Excellence.
These young graduates are given a unique opportunity to receive the best industry training and even land a job with the Bank. Through this initiative, thousands of young Nigerians have acquired valuable skills to meet the demands of the very competitive labor market, while several others have been employed by the bank and have gone on to build meaningful careers in the banking and financial services sector.
The need for a robust financial capacity to drive sustainability
The bank’s half year 2017 financial results revealed that it recorded 42% YoY growth in Gross Earnings; 21% growth in Net Interest Income; 29% growth in Operating Income; 18% growth in PBT and 17% growth in PAT while its cost to income ratio stood at 62.7% in H1 2017 from 58.4% in H1 2016.
Similarly, it recorded stability in its asset quality which is reflective of its disciplined approach to risk management while its Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) increased to 21.6%, up 60bps from 21% in December 16, reflecting the Group’s robust capacity for growth.
In the second half of 2017, the bank is expected to reinforce the implementation of its cost reduction initiatives in order to improve the bottom-line despite high inflationary environment.
Based on the results and projections, analysts believe the strong yields on interest earning assets will offset the expansion in funding cost, thus, estimating net interest margin to expand marginally by 4 bps y/y to 6.28%.
In furtherance of Access Bank’s commitment to youth development, the bank also partnered with the Lagos State government on a 13-Week employability programme to equip young people in the state with high-demand marketplace skills.
An initiative of the Lagos State Government, Ready-Set-Work was conceived to address employability and employment challenges that face today’s graduates, empowering them with the right skills and knowledge that will make them valuable in the marketplace.”
The programme will adequately prepare final and penultimate year students and fresh graduates to meet the demands of the job market, through a series of training, and Access Bank, as a forward-thinking organization, is working with the state government to ensure the success of the programme.
Meanwhile, in recognition of its various interventions in the country, a delegation of students of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during a visit to the bank’s head office commended the company for empowering youths through various initiatives.
The visiting scholars had come to Lagos to learn more about urban development and innovation, democratic governance and emerging trends in the public policies of Lagos state and Nigeria, and recognizing the huge impact Access Bank is making on the Nigerian youth, decided to visit the bank’s headquarters in Lagos.
The group, received by the bank’s CEO, Hubert Wigwe and a delegation of the National Economics Students Association of the University of Lagos, who coincidentally were there to present an award of “The Most Supportive Organization“ to the bank, commended Access Bank for its contribution to gender and youth empowerment in Nigeria.