It is no longer news that Nigeria has been recording high rate of unemployed citizens since last three years. It is also not new that governments at various levels have been seen as either making efforts to reduce the rate or not, according to social commentators and public affairs analysts. The real news, based on the current labour statistics, is surprising insights that showed that the country is seating on a keg of gunpowder if drastic actions are not taken to stem the tide of the rate every quarter.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigerians [qualifies as labour] who work more than 40 hours are fully employed, while those who spend between 20 and 39 hours, 1 and 19 hours are underemployed and unemployed respectively. The country’s statistical agency also notes that there are citizens who are not engaged in any work activity. In all, the agency notes that Nigeria has 80,291,894 labour force as at Q2, 2020.
Examining the data further, our analysis indicates that on average 3,235,024 of 35,585,273 citizens categorised under ‘working for more than 40 hours’ are fully employed. On average, we also found that 2,085,636 [out of 22,942,004] citizens and 1,126,851 [out of 12,395,364] are underemployed and unemployed respectively. Averagely, it was also discovered over 851,750 citizens [out of 9,369,255] are not doing any work-related activities.
Differences and Linkages
Our analysis of the difference among the categories reveals surprising results. We found that the difference between the citizens categorised into fully employed and underemployed is 1,149,388, while it was 275,100 for those in unemployed and did nothing classifications. Looking at the data further, analysis reveals 96.1% connection between fully employed and underemployed citizens.
Analysis also indicates that those in unemployed and did nothing categories linked by 77.7%. It was 73.7% for those in underemployed and did nothing categories. These differences and connections have many implications for the Nigerian government and its economy. It has shown that those in fully employed category are most likely to fall into underemployed and subsequently into unemployed. This is not quite different for those in unemployed category. They would enter did nothing category if concrete policies and initiatives are not developed.
Beyond the general statistics, 17,831 PhD holders [out of 76,526] categorised under those who work for 1 to 19 hours caught our analyst’s attention. According to the statistical agency, Nigeria has 521,108 citizens with masters degree certificates, ranging from Msc, MA to MBA. Out of this number, 284,149 and 23,742 are fully employed and unemployed respectively, while 95,769 are not engaged in any work-related activities.
Exhibit 1: Labour Statistics by Gender and Employment Categories
Looking at the statistics of the PhD holders, it is startling that over 17,000 cannot be engaged fully despite the years of doing PhD programmes in Nigeria. And, the expectation that candidates must conduct research on a specific topic that provide substantial contributions to societal problems. While researching for possible factors, our analyst found that Nigerian universities with PhD programmes are experiencing a number of problems. These problems range from poor funding to lack of total commitment to supervision by supervisors. In a recent report about the PhD programmes in the sub-Saharan Africa, it was pointed out that there is inconsistency in the capacity of the institutions to produce PhD graduates. “In all the countries, the PhD is typically structured on the doctorate-by-research model, (rather than the ‘taught doctorate’ model used in North America). A salient feature in each country context was the challenge of adequate supervision, whether in terms of finding a suitable supervisor with relevant expertise, or frequency and quality of supervisory meetings.”
From these insights, it could be gleaned that Nigeria will continue to have a number of PhD holders without full work engagement if urgent actions are not taken. It is time that the government and concerned stakeholders work out the new playbook for PhD programmes across the country. Nigerian universities need to produce PhD graduates that will not only work in the academic institutions. They candidates should be walked through how to be more inclined with the industry’s needs and solutions.
At least, a PhD candidate is expected to be on the programme for 3 to 6 years. Therefore, there is a need to ask every candidate fundamental question of what is his or her career plan. It is the belief of the society that pursuing a PhD programme means the person will work in the University. It is high time will correct this impression. To the best of our analyst’s knowledge, industries need PhD holders too, especially in the areas of building models that solve practical problems using theoretical and empirical means.
Any PhD candidate who does not have a career plan should know that he or she is walking in the darkness. A career plan will go in a long way of setting path for being early career researchers either in the University or industry. Apart from this, having a career plan that incorporates the possibility of turning the PhD research thesis into concrete solutions can make PhD candidates innovators for the Nigerian society. Therefore, it would not be out of the programme context if the institutions ask the candidates to submit their career plan as part of the requirements for admission.