Nigeria Matters

Time to tackle youth unemployment challenge

Despite that youth unemployment has continued to remain an immense challenge for successive administrations, military or civil, in Nigeria over time, yet there seem to be no clear-cut, earnest and committed efforts to resolve this volatile socio-economic emergency through massive job creation for the unemployed ones in the land.

Yearly, scores of young men and women are churned out as graduates of differing academic disciplines from the nation’s institutions of higher learning into the country’s profoundly saturated Labour market.

Now, the overwhelming adverse affects of the inability of majority of such educated young population ready to be gainfully employed on the rest of the society are obvious and fast becoming overwhelming to be ignored.

But then, what actually makes an unemployment situation in a typical human community as Nigeria’s? The phenomenon thus, has been described as a circumstance in which trained or educated and qualified, able-bodied man and women who are ready for gainful employment to eke out a living but cannot find jobs to do.

Consequently, shocking instances of anti-social, risky and immoral traits being exuded by a soaring army of unemployed youth across the nation are everywhere. For instance, even scores of female undergraduates in major universities towns of Lagos, Ibadan, Ile-Ife, Benin, Ilorin, Abuja, Kaduna, Zaria, Jos, Nzukka, Enugu, Calabar and Port-Harcourt among others, ostensibly engage in commercial sex work in hotels and hideous strip/night clubs to survive on campus.

Dejectedly, among most of the male unemployed ones too, the unpleasant story of youth restiveness is not different. If it’s not wayward vandalism, then it will be economic sabotage, kidnapping, armed robbery, or secret cult attacks which they mindlessly unleash on innocent citizens, thereby disrupting public peace and order every now and again.

Regarding the reasons why this unbecoming situation persists in our system, some have heaped the blame on the Government’s poor development planning and shoddy, inaccurate statistics to work with in preparing and developing a pool of competent human capital for the enhancement of the socio-economic and political development of the country.

Another factor being advanced by others is the apparent little or no investment in key social infrastructure to enable the Real Sector and small/medium enterprises to create more employment opportunities to absorb these young idle hands.

Nevertheless, some other analysts and experts as human capital professionals also have pinpointed the fact that many of today’s graduates are simply lacking in essential skills cum aptitudes, and are largely unemployable in today’s ‘markets’.

Other analysts have contended that this yawning gap in needed skills by majority of the graduates could be attributed to decayed infrastructure as regards the availability of standard research, teaching and learning facilities in the schools, colleges, polytechnics and universities across the land.

Unregulated proliferation of private institutions of learning with less than-satisfactory quality of teachers, instructors and learning facilities, lack of seriousness with studies by students, and indiscriminate siting of satellite campuses of higher institutions of learning have also been cited as potent factors contributing to the continued production of half-baked graduates.

A human capital development specialist, Mrs. Ijeoma Rita Obu, Chief Executive Officer, Clement Ashley Consulting, Nigeria, in a chat with BusinessDay Newspaper in 2010, shared her intimate experience with some graduates this way: “Chances are that the average graduate we get today will not fit into any job because some of them cannot speak basic English; some cannot write a simple letter.

“The quality is so bad that you spend a fortune training them without getting any result, because some things that should have happened earlier in their lives did not happen,” she added the clincher.

Whether seeking employment opportunities or making a marked difference when on the jobs, a number of human capital development professionals have revealed that many of the young people seeking employment should understand that “having a good attitude and ability to communicate effectively” is a must if they actually want to be a success in this fast-paced, modern world.

In respect of the importance of successful communication, Detoun Ogwo, an expert in etiquette, once threw this poser in one of her write-ups in a publication: “How else would you convince the employer to hire you, encourage a customer to buy from you, if you can’t communicate efficiently? Written and oral communication is a must in the workplace.”

As the increasingly disturbing youth unemployment situation stands now, the Government in conjunction with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) without delay, ought to introduce a sequence of interventions. This they can achieve through enhanced investment in small and medium enterprises to create more employment opportunities which will ultimately absorb most of these qualified yet idle youths.

Consequent upon an observed mismatch between the requisite job skills needed and competencies of most graduates, education regulatory bodies and authorities of such institutions should embark on a holistic review of their academic curricula and design their programmes to suit actual job demands in the modern economy.

With the rife allegations in certain quarters that several graduates cannot defend certificates they flaunt when seeking job opportunities, just as authorities should their part, students in institutions of learning need to internalise the object of the aphoristic saying, that “as you make your make your bed, so you must lie on it.” If they are not there (school), when others are there and busy learning, there is technically nothing for such truant learners to justify their supposed scholarship when faced with the realities of life after graduation.

In an attempt to prevent genuinely qualified but unemployed ones from getting frustrated and possibly indulging in hazardous, anti-social behaviours, the Government as matter of necessity has to institute unemployment benefits or compensation scheme for those temporarily unemployed.

Through this, ours no doubt will progressively gravitate towards a crime cum terror-free society, which is currently a rarity in the land. “Idle hands,” people say, “are the Devil’s workshop”; the capable, energetic but unemployed young population need to be meaningfully and gainfully engaged.

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