The World Bank has urged Nigeria to see labor migration as a succor to its demographic boom. Nigeria’s population explosion is creating unemployment void that the slow pacing economic growth cannot fill. It is estimated that by 2050, the working population will increase by 125 percent. According to World Bank data, those aged 15 to 64 will increase from 107, 702, 000 in 2019 to 242, 994, 000.
With the current economic outlook, the possibility of finding a job in the near future will be slim because the labor market will be unable to absorb new entrants.
In view of this threat, Nigeria has been urged to reduce the pressure and make most of remittance and skills transfers by promoting new legal labor migration pathways with countries of destination across the globe.
Nigerians are known for their immigration exploits, and the current economic situation has pushed the trend further to a life threatening point. One in 3 Nigerians desires to leave the country.
In June last year, Nigeria overtook India to assume the position of world poverty capital. According to World Poverty Clock, over 94 million Nigerians are living below $1.9 daily, resulting in increased immigration desires among the working age. A situation the labor market has enabled due to lack of productive, gainful employment opportunities for the overgrowing population, most among them, the youths.
The National Bureau of statistics (NBS), reported 23.1 percent unemployment rate in Nigeria for the last quarter of 2019. A 15.6 increase from the 7.5 percent of 2015, and the situation is set to get worse. The World Bank estimated that by 2030, additional 30 million jobs will be needed to usurp the pressure that population increase will have on the country. A challenge the current GDP growth and economic policies are falling short to take on. The GDP growth rate is barely over 2 percent whereas the World Bank noted that even at 6 percent consistent growth per year, only one in four Nigerians will be able to obtain good, wage-paying jobs in the formal sector.
The migration population in Europe has an overwhelming number of Nigerians, most of them traveling illegally. The worst of the situation was exposed through immigrant crisis in Libya, where many Sub-Saharan Africans were captured and sold in an open slave market. Many of them were Nigerians who took the risk of crossing the desert and were willing to risk their necks in unfriendly waters just to get Europe.
The driving force behind the risks has been survival, and the hope of getting to developed countries with higher demand for labor and skilled workforce. Canada, Australia, Iceland and all the countries with deficiency in work-age population are looking to close the gap through migratory manpower. The World Bank is thus urging Nigeria to cash in on external destinations as a potential source of employment for Nigerians.
Such migration is upheld in the National Policy on Labor Migration 2014, but the pathway requires preparing people with the needed skills.
Undertaking projection of human resource requirements in countries of labor and skills demand, with special attention to emerging skills requirements to anticipate meeting demand with matching skills.
Developing financial support schemes to help youth acquire skills that are sought after in both domestic and foreign labor markets.
Promoting the participation of employers and trade union organizations in the provision and funding of vocational training and skills upgrading institutions, to meet international skills requirements.
The potentials of the migration pathway can be maximally utilized through the Global Skill Partnership – a bilateral agreement between the two countries on labor. The country of destination agrees to provide technology and finance to train potential migrants with targeted skills in the country of origin, prior to migration. In return, they will receive migrants with the precise needed skills to integrate and contribute their best upon arrival.
The country of origin will provide the training and ascertain that the migrants are equipped to fit into the work environment abroad. Nigeria is one of the 163 countries who put pen to the agreement.
The pathway, if developed and utilized maximally, has the potential of reducing high rate of illegal immigration while providing good job opportunities for Nigerians.
The World Bank has thus urged the Nigerian Government to test the Global Skill partnership tool in preparation for the pathway initiative as it is currently being trialed around the world.