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Unemployment is a growing challenge faced by many youths in Cross River State and across Nigeria. Girls’ Power Initiative Calabar Center, with support from Lafarge Africa, has been carrying out interventions to reduce youth unemployment in Cross River State since 2017.

In 2018, GPI implemented the Better Life Options and Opportunities Model Plus (BLOOM+) program in six Lafarge Host communities in Cross River State. BLOOM+ was a personal empowerment and skills training project that, upon completion, saw some of its beneficiaries returned to school, while others expressed another desire: to be trained on vocational skills that will allow them to become self-employed and self-reliant. 

GPI launched this newest skills training project with continued support from Lafarge Africa in order to meet those needs and also to address the growing problem of youth unemployment in Cross River State. 

Fifty beneficiaries between the ages of 18 to 25  were chosen to participate in the project and are receiving training in five different areas: male and female fashion design, Alumaco, welding and fabrication and electrical.

GPI encourages youth, and women in particular to participate in non-traditional trades and is proud to run a program that facilitates this. Women are traditionally encouraged into sewing and cooking but several young women have chosen to go into non-traditional trades like electrical, welding and fabrication.

The 50 apprentices are from 10 Lafarge host communities in Calabar Municipality, Akamkpa, and Akpabuyo. Before the practical training for the apprentices began, all participants took place in a three day training that covered topics like business management, financial management, self-esteem, time management and decision making. 

Apprentices learn all of the technical skills they will need to work in their chosen industry from qualified trainers in their respective fields. Aside from learning practical skills, the project also empowers apprentices with knowledge on entrepreneurship and self-employment so that when they are finished their apprenticeships they are ready to enter the workforce.

In December 2019, apprentices will graduate from the program and will receive a start-up grant in the form of tools or machinery to help them get started on their own.