I got a call from a friend last week who requested that I should assist a 26 year old guy who graduated with a first class degree to get a job. This young man has tried to secure a job but all his efforts had proved abortive. I told him I would see what I could do but that I could not promise anything as I have files and folders of both soft and hard copies of curriculum vitae of a good number of jobless youths begging for the same attention.
This is a common story you hear every day. Gone are the days when graduates with first class and second upper class found it easy to clinch a job. This ‘cancer’ no longer discriminate the class of degree, course of study and professional qualifications or whether the degree originates from home or abroad.
The labour market now consist a good mix of brilliant graduates and professional bankers, accountants, stockbrokers, engineers etc who have lost their posh and lucrative jobs as a result of the global financial crisis that started in 2008. Even now, many are living under a palpable fear of the possibility of job loss. These are indeed troubled times for workers.
Gone are those days, in many companies, when you were told that as long as you put in a decent work-day the company would stand by you. No one is sure of anything again. In the face of the fight for corporate survival, rewarding staff loyalty with job security in many companies is now an unaffordable luxury.
Unemployment is not a Nigerian phenomenon. It is part of a global tidal wave sweeping through all the leading economies of the developed world whether in Europe, Asia or Americas. The situation would have been worse than this in Nigeria but for some of the policies of government chief of which are the various bailout funds for various sectors of the economy.
These have helped to reduce the incidence of corporate failures and by extension workers layoff. However these laudable policies will only serve as a short-term measure. The long-term strategy and a more fruitful approach is to promote the emergence of entrepreneurs.
The emergence of entrepreneurs will reduce the incidence of unemployment. But not the replicative brand that is very popular and common. We need barbers, hairdressers, shoe cobblers, drycleaners, cyber cafe owners, printers, painters, fish and pig farmers, consultants, and a host of other small businesses. They are important for the economy and should by all means be encouraged and supported. However, they are not the critical contributors to economic growth.
We need a different breed known as innovative entrepreneurs. These according to Joseph Schumpeter are those that attempt to fundamentally change how the world works through the commercialization of a new idea that disrupts existing markets or creates entirely new ones. In the words of William Baumol, they are “the bold and imaginative deviator from established business patterns and practices”.
Innovative entrepreneurs are the economy builders. They carry more economic weight than the replicative entrepreneurs because they generate many more new jobs. Although they start small, they dream and think big from the start and grow quickly beyond their home borders and become powerful forces in global markets. An economic downturn like this is a time when creative people are needed to recombine labour and capital in an imaginative way.
The recently launched innovative competition tagged ‘YOUWIN’ by the Federal Government is a good way to kick-start the process. The world is going through a period of crisis. A time of crisis calls for fresh thinking, new ideas and initiatives. Our country is in dire need of innovative entrepreneurs to stem the increasing tide of unemployment. For, it is the seeds they plant today that will grow to support our economy in the years to come.
by Olubode Olatunji