“Education is the key to the future; you’ve heard it a million times and it’s not wrong. Educated people have higher wages and lower employment rates, and better educated countries grow faster and innovative more than other countries but going to college is not enough” – Alex Tabarrok.
Unemployment occurs when a person who is actively searching for employment is unable to find one. It can also be defined as situations were an adult is not able to get a job. Unemployment is one of the many challenges facing Nigeria as a nation. The rate is quite high especially among graduates. From year to year its growth is sky rocketing and increases in a geometric progression. “The nation’s unemployment rate has in the second quarter (Q2) of 2015 risen to 8.2 per cent from the 7.5 per cent rate which was recorded in the preceding quarter. This brings to three the consecutive rise in unemployment rate in the country since the third quarter of 2014. Accordingly, there were a total of 19.6 million people between ages 15 – 65 either unemployed or underemployed in the labor force in Q2 2015, compared to 17.7 million in Q1 2015,”( National Bureau of Statistics).The problem of unemployment which leads to poverty in Nigeria has transformed from obscurity in recent times to the most threatening national plagues. This constitutes an obstacle to sustainable development as it limits improvement in living standards. And also output and social cohesion which are key factors for achieving inclusive growth. To further buttress the consequences of this menace, a young Nigerian graduate in Katsina town had in 2010 committed suicide over his prolonged period of unemployment. While a group of unemployed graduates in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State recently faced trial for “organizing unlawful protest” against their unemployed status.
Alas, how did we get here! Nigerian economy, if properly managed, should have been growing at an annual rate of about 12% given the oil boom. This problem could have been tackled effectively; it would have reduced the poverty level to the barest minimum, as well as increase the standard of living in our dear country. This would have also fast track the realization of vision 2020.
The 2015 budget as revealed by the Federal Government showed a proposal of N492, 034 billion for education out of N4.3trillion national budget. In the 2011 budget, N306.3bn was allocated to education; in 2012 (N400.15bn); in 2013(N426.53bn); and (N493b) in 2014 representing 10.7 per cent of the national budget in each year. . (EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION (NUC), PROF PETER OKEBUKOLAN OKEBUKOLA WHO IS ALSO THE PRESIDENT OF UNESCO GLOBAL UNIVERSITY NETWORK FOR INNOVATION (GUNI) AFRICA AND CHAIRMAN OF COUNCIL OF UNIVERSITY OF WEST AFRICA, ADVISED THAT THE BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR EDUCATION BE RAISED TO 30 PER CENT, AMONG OTHER ISSUES)
We need to realize that the budget proposal of 10.7 per cent of the national budget for education going to the national assembly for appropriation is for funding education at the federal level. This will service federal tertiary institutions, 104 Unity Colleges, 25 parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Education and the Federal Ministry of Education itself. Each of the 36 states and the FCT will also present their education budgets to their respective State Assemblies. When aggregated together alongside the contribution of the intervention agencies, we will have a proportion in the neighborhood of 23 per cent need meet in the educational sector. This percentage is not enough to put up infrastructure and all what nots needed to have an ideal graduate. The above budget analysis also applies when it comes to job creation in Nigeria.
I am also aware that other sectors such as health, agriculture and security are important and will also desire generous funding. What our leaders fail to realize and appreciate is that education is the antidote to challenges in all other sectors. It is often said that education cannot solve all of society’s problems but without education no solution is possible.
I should stress that the condition of adequate funding and creation of job by the government is only just necessary to help us achieve our dreams as one of the best economies before 2020. It will become efficient when we have truly nationalistic, corruption-intolerant and God-fearing leaders at all levels of governance. I am not talking about the President, State Governors and Managing Directors of private companies alone. Rather am talking about all those who are in educational leadership including Vice-Chancellors, Heads of Academic Departments in Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
Most of our Lecturers have lost focus of their sole aim of building future generations. Most no longer partake in research to upgrade themselves in their field of study. Little wonder our Higher Institutions are theoretical, obsolete. Most run after their pocket by embarking on endless strike which they tag “University Infrastructural Development”. At the end of the day little or no Infrastructure will be put up as seen in the previous administrations where provisions and deposit of N200 billion infrastructural revitalization funds were demanded. This has resulted in the production of half-baked graduates who can’t stand on their own after graduation nor meet up with the requirement for employment. Hence some of our lecturers are not left out when the issue of Unemployment exhumes.
What about parents who chose course of study for their children just because of the big name. It has been observed that graduates who study a particular course due to their parents’ choice, most often don’t perform excellently well in those courses and as such fail to meet up with the required knowledge needed to be in the employment class.
Our private firms are not helping matters either with their 5years job experience which they require for job recruitment. They fail to understand the difference between an experienced man, and an idea-generation-man. In the words of Mcvey Esther… firms should put effort into doing all they can to help them build up the experience and skills they need for the employers of the future.
Being that as it may, the sole personalities who are responsible for unemployment are the graduates. Majority went to school simply because they want to answer the name “GRADUATES”. The other percentage went to school with the mindset of graduating and getting a white collar job which has almost gone extinct in our dear country.
Research has it that out of one million persons who graduate yearly from our tertiary institutions, only few have the mindset of becoming Entrepreneurs. A large number depends on white collar job but while in school fail to develop skills that qualify them to be among the employable class. It is recorded that despite our high rate of unemployment, 300,000 jobs go unfilled largely because many of the unemployed graduates lack the skills needed today as a result of technological progress.
No wonder the two types of unemployment affecting us largely today are “Structural unemployment – due to lack of necessary skills. And the second is Voluntary unemployment – where graduates refuse to take up a job simply because of low payment attached to it.”According to Esther Mcvey a Europe job minister, “Youths looking for work have to be prepared to get a foot on the ladder before expanding the horizons”.
Others who depend on government have probably forgotten the words of John F Kennedy, which says that “It is not what your government can do for you but what you can do for your government”. The fact remains that even if government creates 1000 job opportunities every year, it will still have little or no effect on unemployment. This due to hijacking of government work by the “Oga’s at the top” who reserved it for their unseen relations and thus the increase of “Ghost workers” in our country.
WHAT THEN IS THE WAY FORWARD?
If education in general in Nigeria were better funded and taught, we will have a country that will parade the best statistics in the world in health, education, security, economy, environment, agriculture, science and technology and in other sectors. We will have a country that will lead Africa to claim the 21st century.
But nevertheless, Graduates should realize that no one owes them a job after school and sit up. We should avoid allowing our parents to dictate for us which course we should go for or going for one “the big course” just because of the name. Rather let’s go for courses that we have passion for if possible the ones we are talented in. when we do so, even if there is no job, we will develop something out of it.
Also, while in school, it is left for us to sit back and develop ourselves by sorting for information to improve ourselves to be able to face the real world. Let’s think about ideas that will develop our entrepreneurship skills. Use your God given talent and open your financial door because a man is not paid for what he knows but what he can do with what he knows – Napoleon Hills.
In conclusion, virtually, everyone has a hand in this issue of unemployment ranging from our parents who choose courses for us, some lecturers who are interested in their pockets and has lost focus of the practical aspect of education which has resulted in producing half-baked graduates, government who has refused to provide employment opportunities for its citizens, private firms that has discouraged us with their numerous years of required experience and finally on us the graduates who has refused to learn and graduate indeed. “What we require then as we travel towards full employment is not a new legislature but a gradual change of mental attitude, a shift in value. Therefore, let’s all roll up our sleeves and get back to work.
Change is possible…it begins with you!