In Nigeria, there are about 25 million unemployed graduates and this is a wake-up call for national planning in the area of employment. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has not been up and doing its job by updating its record in order to help the populace understand the exact figures of the country’s employment, unemployment, and underemployment status.
In this context as well, it is necessary to define a graduate in the Nigerian context. A graduate is an individual who has successfully completed their first academic degree in the university or polytechnics. Interestingly, Nigerian universities and polytechnics keep releasing fresh graduates each year, even though the job market is already saturated and seems like it cannot take further graduates.
In Nigeria, as of 2019, there are 134 recognized polytechnics and 174 universities, including federal, state, and privately owned. They all admit about 2 million and release about 600 000 graduates each year.
In 2014, it was recorded that about 520 000 unemployed Nigerian graduates stormed different recruitment centres to apply for 4000 advertised vacant positions in the Nigerian Immigration Service. By implication, it was about 130 unemployed graduates against each of the 4000 vacant positions. On the day of the aptitude tests, about 16 graduates died from a stampede as a result of the crowd at the venues. Sadly, no sanction was imposed on the then Minister of Internal Affairs, Abba Moro, by the then President, Goodluck Jonathan Administration. Instead, automatic employment slots were awarded to the families of the deceased as a form of compensation. There were other awful stories regarding employment in different ministries and parastatals in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, it seems there is no succor yet regarding the unemployment rate in Nigeria. This could also mean that Nigerian graduates have entered ‘one chance’ regarding employment in Nigeria as it looks like there is no escape route to that.
Before proceeding to the reasons behind the unemployment rate and unemployability of Nigerian graduates, it will be expedient to define unemployment. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), unemployment is the portion of the labor force that is without work, though available for and seeking employment, including people who have lost their jobs and those who have left work.
You may want to ask, “why are Nigerian graduates unemployable”? To answer that, below are some of the reasons for the situation at hand:
- Lack of employability Skills: frankly speaking, most Nigerian graduates are unemployable because they lack employability skills. These skills are the skills that could guarantee employment. So, when the graduates lack the relevant skills that are needed in the job market, they may never be able to get employed in any organization. Therefore, it behooves the Nigerian government to ensure that the education system in the country is improved to a quality standard; else, the same problem will keep moving in circles.
- No emphasis is laid on entrepreneurship in the school curriculum: the Nigerian educational system is not organized in a way that it could accommodate entrepreneurship in its curriculum. In short, most students read to just pass their examination and come out with a high CGPA. They are not equipped practically or exposed to the reality of life situations. Therefore, upon graduation, they become confused as to how to handle life and make the best of it, even with good results.
- The quality of training is not in sync with the situation of the society: the quality of education offered to students is not tailored to tackle the current need of society. For instance, we are in the innovative era where people make use of their brains more than their hands while working. But it is quite unfortunate that the training in the classroom still focuses on the industrial era. Thus it could be said that most of the programmes taught in schools are irrelevant to the current world situation.
- The criterion of job experience with long years of practice is not favorable: most recruiters in Nigeria request that applicants must possess some level of work experience with some years of practice. There is no room for fresh graduates to even learn the ropes of the job before perfecting in the job roles. Worse still, most curriculums do not make rooms for internships where students could learn practical skills before applying for their job roles.
- Lecturers do not possess current knowledge: the lecturers in the Nigerian tertiary institutions are supposed to undergo training from time to time to refresh their knowledge in their areas of expertise. But the situation at hand is not so. Their knowledge is obsolete and so, they can only impact the students based on what they know. Sadly, the skills and knowledge being impacted are not marketable enough to inspire confidence in the students after graduation.
- Students are apathetic to education: education in Nigeria seems to just be a means to the end. Most students are in school to graduate and make real money as quickly as possible. None of them is willing to study to possess the skills that would enable them to make the money in the end. Additionally, exam malpractice has become the order of the day. Unserious students bribe the lecturers to give them high scores after examination, while the scores of those who studied intensely are reduced. That aside, most of the available jobs in Nigeria are offered on the basis of nepotism and favoritism. Those prepared for the jobs are not offered the jobs, while those who lack the skills but know some top people at the organization are offered the jobs. Some of the lazy students also engage in some social vices like ‘yahoo yahoo’ and the recent one called ‘yahoo plus; to make quick money, while those serious ones are encouraged to be ‘patient with God’. This discourages serious students and causes them to become lazy. As a result, the standard of education is reduced.
- No plans after the compulsory one-year service: most graduates go for their one-year mandatory NYSC programme without any plans for life after. The NYSC programme should be an avenue for self-discovery for those who lack relevant skills to face the job market. Some of them are expected to enroll in some skill acquisition in order to equip themselves practically and go into entrepreneurship since it is obvious that the available jobs cannot go round. They also know that after the programme, they are left to cater for themselves as there are no arrangements by the government to absolve them into the labour market afterward. But the reality is that most of them see that as an avenue to spend one year doing almost nothing but receiving stipends at the end of each month.
- Employers are more interested in how much they can make off their employees: most employers are not ready to get their employees trained from time to time in order to acquire skills that would enable their employees to perform their jobs better. They are not ready to spend money on ‘someone that would leave at the end of the day as some of them put it. However, they are more than willing to use their employees until the last sweat dries off their bodies. When you meet a typical Nigerian graduate, he or she must have changed their job at least thrice in a year. Their reason? The pay is not encouraging!
- Lack of skillful knowledge: in Nigeria, most graduates feel it is degrading to learn a skill or take up a skill-oriented kind of job simply because ‘they are graduates’. We need both skilled and semi-skilled professionals in Nigeria because they contribute to the country’s GDP. In most countries across the world, possessing a skill or trade before graduation is compulsory. This is because it would enable them to have something to fall back to in case the anticipated job is not forthcoming. But such is not encouraged in Nigeria.
- Corruption on the part of the leaders: today, Nigerian leaders are not really seeking the good of all as it should be. In short, anyone who wants to enrich his pocket is advised to join politics. This makes us have low-quality leaders at the national, state, and local levels. Hence, there is no quality leader to monitor and regulate the quality and standard of education being offered in the classroom. Also, the communal money that is meant to use for the common good of all is packaged by a few individuals at the top and sent into their private accounts, leaving the masses to their fate.
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In Nigeria, one of the joys of parents is to see their children through school and they, in return, would take care of their parents. They place much hope on their children to get good jobs after graduation. This is the reality of an average Nigerian family. However, it is quite different from the real case situation where getting a job or engaging in entrepreneurship is not as easy as should be. The bitter truth is that graduating, even with the best result in Nigeria, does not guarantee any hope of landing a well-paying job. Most times those that are lucky to get jobs are being underpaid or are working in sectors where they were not prepared to handle. In this situation, most of them take to teaching, even though they do not possess classroom skills. Thus, the cycle of producing another set of low-quality graduates starts again. To what end would this be?
What do you have to say in this context? Do you think otherwise? Or you share the same view? Well, we would love to hear from you. Share your comments with us below this post.