Creating sufficient jobs for the citizenry is almost a ubiquitous problem among many nations. But the scale of the challenge and the criticality varies. Nigeria’s historical inability to create sufficient jobs for its people has been a major national challenge for successive governments. From an economic and national development perspective, rising rates of unemployment can be tetra headed. Nigeria’s situation could be a matrix of tens of problems, including skill/capacity gaps, macroeconomic limitations to doing business, policy gaps, infrastructural limitations, resource negligence and un-optimized potentials.
It should have become apparent that legacy approaches – which has hitherto failed – can no longer be applied going forward. Neither can the classic Schumpeterian or Keynesian formulas work excellently for Nigeria without modifications. Emphasizing “Pro-growth” “Pro-investment” perspectives alone have not and may no longer be relevant.
In the current ambience of a political transition – this problem like many others has to be frontloaded in our national political discus. It’s inevitable that an economically promising nation like Nigeria should now build thoughtful, sustainable and comprehensive mechanisms for job creation. It can be safely said, that unemployment in Nigeria is a challenge known to all but which has albeit received less than half the attention it deserves. This problem should now receive greater and renewed attention; firstly from the government who has the onus of building the right frameworks for job creation and secondly from the private sector which owns the vehicles required to drive job growth.
Is job creation a science? Could there be country-adjusted mechanisms for reducing unemployment rates and what is Nigeria’s own job science?
If job creation is a science we have not studied it and we do not understand it either. For a major economic and national problem, pockets of mention, siloed efforts domiciled at different levels of government and unilateral efforts within organization in the private sector will not deliver the level of inclusion needed. Nigeria is due to craft a faultless job creation science that demonstrates a deep perspective on the matter and which appropriately depicts the scale of the problem.
The horizon for this problem has changed significantly; because the population boom, witnessed in the last few decades, coupled with a predominantly young demographic is helping to highlight the critical essence of a water-tight job creation policy/approach. This country’s rapid population growth will arrive with even more worrisome levels of unemployment that will deeply shake its economic and social foundations.
We are still looking at the challenge predominantly from the “welfare perspective”; which measures the hardship or economic pain/losses faced by those affected. But the more worrisome perspective is the not yet so conspicuous “social perspective” which will measure unemployment-driven, social disorders; high crime rates; psycho-social degradations; civic hazard and physical displacement.
Amidst the envious and numerous economic potentials, as well as, the politico-economic challenges that Nigeria faces, it’s evident that the ability to provide meaningful work for majority of its population will remain one of the most critical problems in the future. While Nigeria is not new to the crises of unemployment, previous – and insufficient – efforts to solve it have yielded little results.
To chat a new job creation course is therefore inevitable, but several questions arise. Can Nigeria afford to properly rethink her job creation strategies? Is the science of building economic and social systems that lower unemployment rates known to those that ought to know? Within the complicated mixture of economic interests, challenging demographics and supporting policies, where is the motor that drives job creation for Nigeria and who are the fundamental drivers?
It’s therefore exigent that conversations in the next political transition be dominated by considerations of a new way of tackling the job crises. Maybe we may debate long enough; research deep enough; and model well enough, to evolve Nigeria’s own Job science. There are peer nations that have successfully lifted hundreds of millions of poor people out of poverty in a relatively short time frame (few months or years) through novel job creation strategies. That’s a commendable but not an easily replicable feat. Crafting a unique, long term, job science for Nigeria may call for attention to less conspicuous, less conventional focal points, where interventions may be less dramatic and minimally visible, yet with great promises of significant, incremental jobs and long lasting outcomes.
Admittedly, there are many dimensions to what might become our own unique job science. In essence the saving approach may be less conventional and less classical but they should be robust, long term and impact-driven. We should explore less popular and less celebrated job creation strategies such as taming rural-urban migration, prioritizing stranded resource and commodities, nurturing uncommon businesses, inspiring new forms of competition and the poorly explored virtual export of talents.
For example, campaigns for reviving rural economies & communities in Nigeria could deliver unimaginable job benefits. Nigeria is witnessing an unhealthy rural-urban migration with many negative implications. Firstly, the hordes of people leaving rural and semi-urban communities for urban centers and big cities represent the young demographic whose exit portrays the outright death of meaningful entrepreneurship in rural communities. Directly tied to this movement is the unfortunate absence of potential rural entrepreneurial drivers and the skilled rural-workforce that escalates abandonment of resources and commodities. Migration therefore depicts a loss of people and resources that would have otherwise constituted the kernel of economic growth and job creation in those places. This scenario is one of over a hundred possible points of intervention that appears less conventional but capable of delivering gains. All options should therefore be on the table.