When I mounted the podium to speak at the International World Youth Day programme organized by the Osun Zonal Youth Wing of NASFAT on Saturday, 24 August, 2019 in Ile Ife, Southwest Nigeria, I spoke deeply from my experience growing up, schooling and eventually becoming a gainfully engaged adult doing what I cherish most – teaching.
I spoke passionately about the education Nigeria is giving her youths. I was, as I have always been, pained by the disconnect between the ivory towers and the realities of our society. The implication is that many institutions churn out students that do not have the relevant skills required in the industry. The consequence of this is that we would continue to struggle with the menace of unemployment with the statistics running higher every year.
My stand then was buttressed recently by the Chairman of First Bank Plc., Mrs Ibukun Awosika, who has had to chide the Nigerian tertiary education system for wrongly training the teeming Nigerian youths. The financial expert also reiterated the need to urgently reform the nation’s curriculum. As urgent as this call was, my take is that the onus falls on the Nigerian students or graduates to realize the dire situation they have found themselves and take their own destinies into their own hands. And I charged them to stand up for themselves and turn their fortunes around.
I told my audience that the paths to tread to salvage the situation for themselves are the following:
Self Awareness : Whether you are an undergraduate or a graduate looking for a job, you have to be aware of the fact that unemployment predates your admission or graduation. You should also be aware that the courses you study might not give you the needed skills to get the job out there. You should know that you might get employed in an industry where your course of study might not even be relevant. Those skills you pay attention to or invest in while an undergraduate might come to your aid in your job search. Being employed or unemployed is not a function of the course you have gone to uni to study. It is a matter of how deliberate you are in building a life for yourself.
Self Education: At this time and age, you have to invest in yourself as a student in a higher institution of learning. I am talking about how much you are ready to invest in your own mental and intellectual development. How much are you ready to invest in building your skill sets to function in that dream industry you are aiming to work in? If your own excuse is lack of funds, there are a thousand and one free courses online: Future Learn, Udacity, Alison, Coursera etc. When you audit the resources you waste online without capturing any value, you might understand why you are unemployed. The charge is that you should continue to develop yourself both online and offline.
Mentorship: As a student aspiring to fit into a particular industry, you need to get mentorship from established people in the profession. This ensures you get guidance and even career opportunities. Your mentor would assist in reviewing your CV, give referrals and serve as referee when required.
Internship : It is a period of time devoted to learning from the industry usually designed by some professional courses such as Accounting, Mass Communication, Engineering and other science courses. Mostly, the period is sponsored by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) for selected courses in both polytechnics and universities. It is indeed a time for self discovery. Whether formally stated or not, there is a need to go internship in your area of interest.
Social Media Literacy: As a student or graduate, it is important that you are literate about the use of social media. You have to review how you use your social media handles. Not only that, you must be able to differentiate between purely social networking sites such as Facebook and professional ones like LinkedIn. You can drive your career path with an educated use of social media.
In concluding my presentation, I asserted that doing all these might not guarantee success, but not doing them would mean you have not done enough to succeed. And in all of these, prayer remains a constant factor because experience has evidently shown that success is divine, to try to attain it is human.