Unemployment in Nigeria
I chose to write this piece at the airport while going through security checks.
I was initially at awe at the sight our own beloved Sir Alex Ferguson. After recovering from my star-stricken moment.
I concentrated on fulfilling some of these security check / airport assistants surely they are between 16 - 18. I said to myself : "what an early start!". Surely in few years some of them will still be working at the same post
The unemployment situation in Nigeria is classic. It is a representation of what obtains in most African countries.
Apart from the obvious fact that the population of Nigeria at 140 million is big enough to justify unemployment, it is not a factor for unemployment.
The bigger the population, the more robust you expect the economy to be. Classic examples are China and India. Not to compare Nigeria to these 2 countries directly and take nothing away from their achievement but it that right, we should make tremendous headway in keeping people engaged
Unemployment in Nigeria is influenced by a lot of factors but I will only talk on few listed below that I believe if and when address will surge employment drive and improve the standard of living amongst Nigerian youth.
1. Social status attached to a degree
2. Stagnation - learning with no real progression
3. Blue chip jobs
4. Low interest in Entrepreneurship
Both locally and internationally Nigerians have invested heavily in educating their children.
The number of tertiary institutions in the country keep rising on a daily basis.
This in itself is not a bad thing as it radically improves accessibility to education in the country.
This however has not comprised the investment many parents still make in sending their wards abroad for tuition
With these you expect these acquisition to culminate into successful venture in the labour market but this is far from reality because we place far too much premium on achieving a degree as a social status rather than it being a preparation to the job market and for the ideal role a candidate aspires for.
The achievement has been so watered down that not having a degree classes you as uneducated.
All these come to naught as the number of masterate holder in the country is on the rise some just to pastime while their is no job prospect.
An average Nigeria youth spends between 18 to 22 years of their lives in conventional institutions of learning. Right from infancy through teenage years to adulthood. This continuous learning makes people prone to stagnation in skills and aptitude as they do not yet to use their skills. As they study from elementary to tertiary institutions. The struggle to fit into their chosen field at the right level of studies becomes a big problem.
Every profession has level of competence which is a combination of skills and technical knowledge.
For instance, in Accounting, before a graduate job their jobs like. Account clerk, account assistant, book keeper and so on. For a person who has studied to Masters level without going through one of this job roles will struggle on the job which will slow down productivity or will experience what smart employers do give you the responsibility of a non graduate with a celebrated title which we all like to hear: accounts officer, reporting officer, purchasing accountant etc these roles do not give ownership of these responsibilities and they are merely assistant role where you report back to the accountant who may not have the degree you have.
The threatening trend of Masters degree without real work experience is another thing to worry about - Masters degree has now become the option to not getting a graduate job that one desires. This is inherently a flaw as many employers often refer to this candidate as overqualified jobseekers and not necessary a round peg.
I believe that academics and practice should go hand in hand. People should work their way up the ladder. The 6 months internship or work placement is not enough for students to prepare for life in their chosen fields.
Blue Chip Jobs
Everyone wants to work in an oil company in Nigeria, Lawyer, Accountant, Biochemists, Analysts etc. While I'm not saying oil companies do not need these professions, it is obvious that we all can not work in these companies in out teeming numbers. But it limits people's ability to venture elsewhere in search of a job.
Although this may be a function of the fact that only oil is the mainstay of Nigeria economy and consequentially their employees are well remunerated but Rome was not built in a day! While one is busy chasing what would or wouldn't be, I believe people should be more encouraged towards looking into other prospects rather than jobs in the oil industry.
For a growing economy entrepreneurship must be promoted tho grow the GDP. There's no gains saying that the government has not being doing enough to encourage entrepreneurs other than pay lip service.
The Nigerian youths are although taking the initiative. This was evident by the presence of the biggest internet entrepreneur in Mark Zuckerberg visiting Nigeria in recent weeks. As said in his speech: "...The energy here is amazing and I'm excited to learn as much as I can."
This firmly puts Nigeria Internet entrepreneurship in global spotlight and it its commendable that the hard work of some Nigerian youths are paying off despite the very trying environment they live in. This however is not enough, We need more people looking to hone their skills and take ownership of the same and channel this into growing the small and medium scale business.