Every year, over 500,000 graduates are released from the tertiary institutions both within and abroad and thrown into the labour market where they have to compete and struggle with one another to get a job in order to fend for themselves and be independent.
The essence of bagging a university degree is to earn a personal income and be self-sufficient.
However, not up to 35% of graduates get their dream jobs, thus, making the rate of unemployment in Nigeria call for national concern.
According to the Guardian Newspaper, Nigeria is one of Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy, but she suffers a youth unemployment problem.
In the country, nearly a quarter of the population is either out of work while 20 per cent is underemployed.
Degree Certification Becoming Worthless In Nigeria
One of the reasons for graduate unemployment in Nigeria is the fact that prospective employees’ education and skills acquired are, more often than not, inadequate to meet the demands of modern-day jobs.
Most companies are only willing to employ those with practical skills, such as IT or digital marketing skills, thus making a Degree certificate an added advantage having spent 4 years or more and a lot of resources.
Unemployment has led many to venture into starting up a business of their own, while some keep waiting for a white-collar job.
According to Daniel Mba, Internet fraud, also known as Yahoo Yahoo has become the order of the day. Celebrities, including Naira Marley, 9nice, among others, praise and encourage youths to go into illegal activities. There are many untapped human resources which are often ignored, perhaps that is why we have more music entertainers earning more or people rushing into that particular field.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) defines unemployment as the proportion of the labor force that is available for work but did not work for at least 39 hours in the week preceding the survey period (Central Bank of Nigeria Annual Report, 2008).
This situation has not only become a great challenge to the Nigerian economy but it has also put a constraint on the economic growth of the country.
This is why many unemployed youths are depressed and unhappy, especially when they have to stay at home and rely on their parents on their daily needs or when they see their peers get that dream job or drive that dream car they have always desired.
Andrew Nevin, the advisory partner and chief economist at PwC Nigeria, states that being young in Nigeria is “very challenging”. For young people aged 15 to 35, the figures are grim: 55.4 per cent of them are without work.
The National Population Commission (NPoC, 2013) states that about half of the population is made up of youth, defined as individuals between 15 and 34 years of age.
According to Trading Economics, Youth unemployment rate in Nigeria decreased to 36.50 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 from 38 per cent in the second quarter of 2018. Youth Unemployment Rate in Nigeria averaged 23.63 per cent from 2014 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 38 per cent in the second quarter of 2018 and a record low of 11.70 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2014.
It is only in Nigeria that a fresh graduate needs to have 3-year of work experience or more to be employed. It is disheartening that youths are not given the opportunity to showcase their talents and hidden abilities.
Failed Government Policies
Creating jobs is often one of the key issues and mantra usually sang during every election campaigns but nothing seems to be done about it.
The very first quest in solving unemployment by the government was to enroll unemployed youth to public programs such as Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) under the administration of Obasanjo and the Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DIFRRI), which gave immediate response and direct jobs to participants interested in agriculture.
Although, the transition to a democratic dispensation in 1999 has seen constant successive civilian administrations’ efforts in focusing more on unemployment programs, thus, dissolving many of the old programs, restructuring and creating new ones. Hence, placing youth as the major cause of concern.
This has led to the establishment of certain institutional arrangements and agencies focused on promoting employment among youth.
Three top current programs are the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YOU-WIN) and the Osun State Youth Employment Scheme (O’YES), among others.
The failure of the public policies directed at solving youth unemployment includes poor finances, the absence of good administration and implementation, inconsistent policies, unimpressive responses from would-be trainees, and unqualified resource personnel handling the training programs.
Where Are The Jobs?
Nwabueze Sharon, a graduate of Economics, in an interview with Information Nigeria stated that lack of funds is the major challenges faced by many graduates in the country.
“Chai, this thing can pain. It hurts like a sting because, after school, there are no other means of regular source of income, taking us back to those days when we have to beg mummy and daddy for almost everything.
“When it finally dawns on you that you cannot even afford ordinary recharge cards. Then, there is no more inflated school fees and textbooks that you sometimes, might not buy.
“After the big girl praises that you received on your graduation, you will be ashamed to ask for money to make your hair, buy shoes, clothes and other luxuries.
“You start to wish you had planned for the future.
“Sleep becomes your friend and depression sets in.
“Most people often get depressed from being unemployed because, you basically sleep and wake up thinking on how to be useful to yourself and your family.
“You begin to pray for a miracle job.
“Sometimes, you face endless sleepless nights worries.
“Life begins to hit you hard like film trick.
“Having to stay with your relatives before you gain your feet is tough cause they begin to see you as someone that cannot offer anything.
“You automatically become an househelp, but you just have to endure.
“I remember how my brother’s wife used to send me on errands to deliver goods to her customers without giving me a dime as compensation.
Adesanya Samuel, in a separate interview with Information Nigeria, narrates the predicament he is subjected to as a result of his ‘unemployed state’.
The graduate of Mathematics revealed he is currently unemployed because he refused to settle for less.
Adesanya said that most companies would only want to employ him as an intern because he is yet to be posted for his NYSC. The salaries for internship jobs are also quite low and not enough to cover his transportation cost and allowance.
He said that his family are not so considerate because he stays at home most-times and he is often compared to others, especially family friends.
In his words,
“My dad thinks I’m lazy because I’m yet to get a job but it is not his fault. He shouts at me and complains a lot because I stay at home. He also doesn’t give me allowance anymore because at my age, 25, I’m old enough to get married. Although, I’m thinking about starting up a phone business where I can sell and repair phones, but right now, I’m looking for funds”.
The tertiary institutions and government need to combine their efforts to encourage practical application of entrepreneurial skills. This might somehow stimulate the impact it has on graduates who want to start up their personal business.