International Studies & Programs

Empowering Young Leaders

Soft Skills Development for Conflict Management and Career Progression in Nigeria

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Published: Friday, 23 Feb 2024 Author: Global Youth Advancement Network

In a bid to address the pressing need for soft skills development among Africa's youth, a groundbreaking initiative titled "Soft Skills Development for Conflict Management and Effective Collaboration" has been awarded funding through the Reciprocal Exchange component of the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship. Spearheaded by Luna Lu, Senior Innovation Officer at Global Youth Advancement Network, and Chibuzor Agomuoh, an International Youth Development Professional and a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow, this project aims to empower young leaders in Nigeria and beyond with practical tools for navigating conflict in both professional and community settings.


With a mission to empower over 250 young leaders hailing from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Madagascar, and Rwanda, the project seeks to enhance workplace success, foster civic participation, and equip participants with the skills needed to effectively manage conflicts while nurturing positive relationships conducive to career growth. Collaborating closely with the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Uket Friday, a YALI member, will serve as the coordinator/moderator for the project.
A needs assessment survey conducted in August 2023 revealed that a staggering 79% of the 250 individuals surveyed, aged between 18 and 40, admitted to experiencing workplace conflict and expressed a lack of preparedness in effectively managing such situations. Recognizing the critical role of soft skills in addressing workplace conflicts, the initiative aims to fill this gap and contribute to the continent's economic growth by equipping young professionals with essential conflict management skills.

softskills2.jpgImplemented by the Global Youth Advancement Network of Michigan State University in collaboration with The Sunrise Youth Intervention Organisation in Nigeria, the project received a $3,000 Reciprocal Exchange grant from the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a program of the U.S. Department of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Drawing insights from a survey by the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX), which highlighted the significance of soft skills in enhancing workforce success, promoting civic participation, and reducing violent extremism in communities, the project was tailored to address these critical needs.


The project unfolded in two key locations in Nigeria—Lagos and Calabar—between January 21 and 29, 2024, attracting approximately 250 participants. The comprehensive training program, spanning five hours each day, delved into various topics aimed at equipping participants with practical skills for conflict management and career progression. The training sessions were led by esteemed professionals in their respective fields, including Viviane Anso, a certified therapist and coach, who addressed the importance of understanding trauma and its impact on workplace productivity.

David Effiong, a 2022 Mandela Washington Fellow and Founder of DaHel Techies, shared insights on making wise career choices and fostering healthy workplace relationships. Chibuzor Agomuoh, the brainchild behind the initiative, facilitated discussions on the structure and culture of healthy teams, emphasizing the importance of vision, leadership style, communication, and inclusiveness in building successful teams

softskills4.jpgMarysela Zamora, Safaa Ouchen, Shomy Chowdhury, and Thomas Sithole also led sessions on managing workplace dynamics through effective collaboration, leveraging real-life scenarios to impart valuable insights. Luna Lu, Senior Innovation Officer at the Global Youth Advancement Network, introduced participants to the wealth of resources available through Michigan State University and the Global Youth Advancement Network’s initiatives, aiming to amplify the voices of young leaders and empower them to spearhead positive change in their communities.

softskills5.jpgUsing the ORID model, participants were able to integrate their learnings into their work experience, with an overwhelming 88% indicating that the training significantly improved their capacity to manage conflict in the workplace.

As the initiative concludes, the organizers express their commitment to partnering on future projects that would mutually benefit Michigan State University and thousands of youths across Africa and Southeast Asia, underscoring the transformative potential of investing in soft skills development for the continent's youth.