It is no longer news that the rate of unemployment in Nigeria is alarming. Many people who were job seekers had become job hunters, all to no avail. There are so many unemployed graduates chasing fewer jobs. That is the reason why for one open position, thousands of people apply. For those who are busy at work, most of them are underemployed, being underpaid for their services.
According to a former Minister of Finance, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in 2014, no fewer than 1.8 million graduates in the country move into the labour market each year. A survey carried out by Jobberman in 2016 , estimates that 47% of Nigeria’s university graduates are unemployed. That is so shocking, considering the number of Nigerians that graduate from our Nigerian Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, as well as Monotechnics, each year.
One of the issues encountered by these job seekers- who have become job hunters, is the issue of cheap labour. A research conducted by Stutern in 2016 as part of the Nigeria Graduate Report, showed that 1 out of 4 graduates earn less than N20,000 ($40) each month as salary for entry-level jobs, while over 80% of employed workers earn not more than N150,000 as monthly salary. According to their report, about 36.26% of recent graduates are currently unemployed, 50.09% of the respondents currently working full time (including self-employed/freelance, voluntary or other unpaid work, developing a professional portfolio/creative practice or an internship). Also, about 8.6% are currently engaged in full-time and part-time further study, training or research, while the remaining 5.05% are presently preparing for further study or professional exams.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Q3 report for 2018 estimated the unemployment rate to be at 23.1% and underemployment rate at 16.6%. According to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, it is projected that the unemployment rate for Nigeria will reach 33.5% by 2020.
What are the reasons for the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria?
1. Inadequate Preparation for the Job market : It has become a popular saying, that the reason why most graduates cannot get jobs is because they are unemployable. This sounds absurd, but what if it is true? Most of our institutions do not prepare the youths for the future. Most of these youths graduate with obsolete skills no longer needed in the job market. They are taught with a 19th century syllabus in a 21st century world. Even in an age of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, etc, most of our Computer Science graduates do not understand any of these concepts. How would they, when their lecturers and professors hardly teach with a computer? As a result, we see graduates who do not have any practical knowledge of what is obtainable, as they are so used to theory. Assignments, tests, and exams are still written on paper, when there are computers everywhere! Therefore, there is a skills gap. For those who could not afford the fees to undergo expensive trainings, to re-learn and unlearn, they remain stuck.
2. Nepotism : This is one of the vices that is slowly killing us as a nation. People are no longer employed based on merit, but based on whom they know – connections. Therefore, if one is occupying a top position in government or in a private firm, instead of making the recruitment process free and fair, he/she automatically submits the name of the child, niece, nephew, cousin or even friend, as a preferred candidate. As a result, we see situations in which qualified people remain unemployed, while those who are unfit get to sit on their seats. Most times, positions are advertised on the public domain, but the preferred candidates had already been selected. The Directors and Employers already know those that are going to heaven. These ones already have their tickets kept, and offer letters typed in advance. What an irony!
3. Corruption: This is slowly eating into the fabric of our nation. In every institution, from the higher institutions to our public offices, corruption has become a reoccurring decimal. Bribery has become the norm of the day. We have heard cases in which people are told to pay huge sums of money to secure federal government jobs. Despite the fact that most people dismiss such as scams, there are people who actually pay and get those jobs. Nobody wants to do the right thing anymore. They claim that the system is already corrupt, and that they weren’t the originators of the corruption. As a result, we see corruption at play everywhere, from the ports, to our security checkpoints, to our classrooms, to our bid for contracts, etc.
4. White-Collar Job Mentality : An average Nigerian graduate would tell you that he/she wants to work in an Oil and Gas firm, a Bank, or even in the Aviation/Maritime sector. They believe, that is where the money is. Nobody wants to go into agriculture, anymore. People no longer see the need for entrepreneurship. All they want is to put on a tie, and go to the office, from 7am to 7pm, everyday. Nobody wants to be on the farm, because they see it as the place meant for old men and women in the villages. They want to be in the city, where things are happening. So sad!
The Untold Stories of our Job Hunters
All over the place, you would find job adverts. They are on the internet, newspaper pages, magazines, as well as on our walls as posters. Every person has become a Recruiter, hence the need to regulate the HR profession more than ever before. Most of these job ads are not real, but scams. These scammers lure these desperate, innocent job hunters to buildings in the guise of conducting interviews for them. Some of these jobs hunters have not been so fortunate. Some have been killed, hypnotized into transferring all their hard-earned money, while others have been raped, robbed, or even threatened. At the end of the day, they are farther away from the non-existent jobs they have gone to hunt. What an Irony!
How about these other recruitment firms where you are asked to bring a copy of your CV, with a pen and a paper. Sometimes, you are even told that you have gotten the job. You get there only to realize that it’s a network marketing firm, where you are expected to sell drugs and supplements, as well as register people under you. These ones you have registered become your disciples, and as they bring more people, the gospel is spread (I am being sarcastic). These people preach more than our preachers. The only difference is that our preachers emphasize on repentance, while these ones emphasize on success and the need to make money, without working for anybody. They have different meanings for different acronyms. They believe that Education is a scam, thereby making you rethink why you went to school. The most surprising thing they do, is that they ask you to register with money to be recruited into their firm, or to pay for their training -which they never disclosed earlier.
What needs to be done?
The time has come for the government, and all well-meaning Nigerians to come together to see how the rate of unemployment in the country will be reduced. People should be supported and empowered to start-up a business, and given grants to do so. They should make entrepreneurship attractive, and encourage low-interest loans by banks to entrepreneurs. Also, firms must partner with tertiary institutions to accept students for internships for them to acquire relevant experience. We must remember, unemployment leads to crime, violence, youth restiveness, prostitution, and other vices. If we can work together to make this our priority, we would have succeeded in making our society a paradise for all. We can walk safely on our streets without fear, and escorts. Our talented youths would not have to emigrate to other countries in search of greener pastures. At the end, we would have succeeded in building the Nigeria of our dreams, cherished and loved by all.