As Buhari administration prepares, end of the month, to offer jobs to 200,000 unemployed graduates, out of the estimated 15.7 million, a look at graduate unemployment crisis in the country.
UNILORIN’s ‘Best Graduating Student’, writes a touching letter to Gov. Ambode of Lagos, on her plight, living without job, in past seven years.
The causes of, and cure for, graduate unemploymen
‘The only Nigerian who does not ask anybody to give him work is the uneducated’
By Chika Abanobi
• Estimated number of unemployed graduates in Nigeria as at today – 15.7 million.
• Segment of the population being referred to: products of universities, polytechnics, monotechnics, colleges of education and other institutions of higher education.
• Definition of the term “the unemployed”: the proportion of those in the labour force (not in the entire economic active population, nor the entire Nigerian population) who are looking for work but cannot find.
• You are unemployed if you did absolutely nothing at all or did something but not up to 20 hours a week or if you work full time, but are engaged in an activity that underutilizes your skills, time and educational qualifications or uses them but underpays you.
Source: National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Of the said 15.7 million number, findings by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics indicate that 1.5 million became unemployed in the first quarter of 2016 (January – March). Within the same period, the total number in full time employment decreased by 528,148 persons. This consists of people who lost their jobs and were forced or for some other reasons, chose to move from full time employment to underemployment.
According to World Bank statistics, 80 per cent of Nigerian youths are unemployed. Secondary school graduates make up half of this figure while the rest 40 per cent are made up of graduates from universities, polytechnic and other institutions of higher learning.
What seems to be more worrisome is the fact that the nation’s tertiary institutions continue to churn out more than 150,000 graduates annually while job creation has been inadequate to keep pace with the expanding working age population. As one of the numerous exercise books on sale everywhere in Nigeria, noted, ‘the only Nigerian who does not ask anybody to give him work is the uneducated.’
Out of the said 15.7 million graduates on the job queue, President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to give 500,000 of them jobs under his administration’s N-Power Project. Out of that number, 200,000 are expected to receive their letters of appointment at the end of the month.
That leaves major segment of them, about 15.2 million, out in the cold, still trudging the street and looking for non-existent jobs, right? That’s the problem. So? How do you provide jobs for them and for others who may swell up that number any moment from now, given the fact that, as statistical records indicate, we churn them out at the rate of more than 150,000 annually?
• Governmental education policies: The government is guilty of promoting academic curriculum that places undue emphasis on paper qualifications, without requisite practical skills and knowledge. It is also guilty of poor funding
• Personal preferences: Undergraduates who choose courses they know cannot help get them fitted for the world of work end up being the architects of their own misfortunes.
• Parental pressures make some students go for courses their parents like rather than the ones they are naturally wired for.
• Emigration: Mass exodus of youths out of the country to Europe through illegal routes leading to the tragic death of most of them as they go through deserts, forests and other barricades in their search for greener pastures. Others are languishing in foreign prison. Many get fleeced of their money by dubious travel agents.
• Forgery: Many unemployed youths haven taken to forgery of degree certificates, NYSC discharge certificates, appointment letters, recommendation letters from highly placed government officials in a bid to be considered for the jobs they are applying for.
• Scam: Some engage in various Internet scams, known in Nigeria as 419, referring to the number in the section of Criminal Codes that deal with such crime while others dupe fellow desperate job-seekers by placing on walls and public places posters advertising, or promising to link applicants with non-existent lucrative jobs or advertising the same on pages of newspapers.
• Restructuring of our academic curriculum: Let the government establish more technical and science schools that emphasise entrepreneurship/vocational studies, upgrade and equip existing ones by providing them with materials like computers, laboratory equipment and machinery.
• The Buhari administration seems to have caught this vision by providing for the 200 soon-to-be recruited graduates, “a device which will also help them to learn several skills that they can develop as time goes on,” so said the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. But more needs to be done. Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has also keyed into the vision by setting up the Employability Track that will see 500 final year students from the state’s tertiary institutions being enrolled in six-month internship training with high-ranking organisations, to enhance their employability at the end of their academic programmes.
• Provision of regular electricity supply, loans and credits for unemployed graduates so that they can go into small-scale businesses. Government should think of extending to the unemployed graduates, the N60, 000-N100, 000 loan scheme it is arranging, through Bank of Industry, for women and artisans.
• Parents: Should stop dictating their children’s choice of career but allow them to choose courses they have passion for and can do well in, after graduation.