Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce has thrown its weight behind the Niger Delta Youth Employment Pathways (NDYEP) project, initiated by the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND). President of PHCCIMA, Chief Nabil Saleh made this declaration when the Executive Director of PIND, Dr Dara Akala led a delegation of senior PIND directors on a business visit to the chamber. Welcoming the delegation, he said the chamber has a long history of successful collaborations with PIND, particularly at the RIVJOB project, the Rivers State Employers Round Table where he served as chairman among others. According to him, PHCCIMA is not just the second-largest chamber in the country, but also the most vibrant rated category A. Because of this, he said PHCCIMA can coordinate other chambers of commerce to achieve set objectives of the PIND project. We have looked through your partnership request and I must confess it is a laudable project we will like to support because our objective has always been how to ensure thriving and stimulation of businesses. In his remark, the Executive Director of PIND, Dr Dara Akala said as a partnership initiative based organization, the visit has become imperative because PHCCIMA is not just strategic as the head of the organized private sector but also a massive skills demand hub that will help the foundation through partnership to bridge the gap and support the quest to achieve her NDYEP objective for Niger Delta. He said the Niger Delta Youth Employment Pathways (NDYEP) projects are targeted at agriculture, ICT, construction sectors and the emerging renewable energy. He said the project is not just to reduce youth unemployment by creating paid employment, but also to stimulate and groom youths on entrepreneurship. According to Akala, PIND is focused on four key areas, economic development that will see partnership with market actors to drive productivity and increase income; peacebuilding, to network partnerships, to foster peace in Niger Delta region; analysis & advocacy, to advocate for pro-poor economic development online and offline and capacity building, for improved service delivery and community governance. Making a powerpoint presentation, the PIND project Lead, Niger Delta Youth Employment Pathways, Emeka Ille said “PIND is implementing the NDYEP project in three (3) pilot states; Abia, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers states, with the goal to map the ecosystem of skills development, analyze opportunities for employment creation and to develop models of youth job-readiness or workforce development and get them job placements that are relevant to their skills. “These are to provide young men and women in the Niger Delta the opportunity to either commence business enterprises or secure sustainable jobs through quality training that prepares them with market-relevant skills. “PIND’s study included a labour market assessment in the pilot states to understand the growth of each industry (ICT, Agriculture, Construction); the impact of each sector’s growth on employment; and how a youth employment program could support and grow the labour force,” he said. Ile stressed that the workshops will help focus investments in critical economic sectors that support sustainable pathways for youth employment and active economic engagement. He said beyond fast-tracking development of the region, youth employment is also critically linked to de-escalation of conflict in the Niger Delta and in collaboration with PHCCIMA they want to see more young people sustainably employed in the agricultural, construction, ICT and renewable energy sectors because there are so many untapped opportunities in these sectors that can rapidly turn around the narrative of the region. The 1st Deputy President of PHCCIMA Chief Mike Elechi emphasized the need to focus more on entrepreneurship, artisanship and stand-alone training, to create personal jobs and get people skilled and self-employed because presently there are no jobs to employ people. For the 2nd Deputy President, Dr Chinyere Nwoga, the NDYE project is a laudable one, more so as it has indicators to show women participation (34%). She said PHCCIMA’s objective is to stimulate the local economy and ensure that businesses thrive; hence the NDYE initiative is apt and offers an opportunity to once more engage in what they know how best to do. There were also contributions from PHCCIMA Treasurer, Engr Tony Nwogbo, Financial Secretary, Arc Oriaku Hanson Oyet-Ille, Publicity secretary Mrs Mercy Abu, Pst Uche Onochie, elected council member, Chairman of SME’s/ICT committee, Mrs Edughom Hanson and the Director-General of PHCCIMA who called for similar partnership premised in graduate work.