by Gideon Arinze
The persistent quest for white collar jobs has turned the minds of many graduates away from embarking on entrepreneurial ventures which are capable of transforming them into employers of labour instead of job seekers. Everyone wants to sit in an office well furnished with air conditions and giving out commands. But sadly, the government cannot possibly provide the whole number of employable youths in the country with job opportunities. Not even now when mediocrity has taken the place of meritocracy as a basis for employment. It is now a question of who you know rather than what you know.
The issue of unemployment for us has become a source of great worry. On the streets each day, you find a significant number of employable youths, most of whom have spent a number of years in the University all in the bid to acquire education. After graduation, there are no jobs to show for the years spent. According to a report by Quartz Africa, Nigerian Tertiary Institutions produce as much as 500,000 graduates every year all of who throng the labour market in search of white-collar jobs, this is not excluding those who study abroad but later return home to compete for jobs. It is such an alarming figure.
According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics- the most recent, there were a total of 28.58 million persons in the Nigerian Labour force that were either unemployed or underemployed in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to 27.12 million in the third quarter, 26.06 million in the second quarter and 24.5 million in the first quarter of the year under review.
From the report by the National Bureau of Statistics, it is clear that there has been a steady rise in the number of unemployed youths, from 12.1% in the first quarter to 13.3% in the second quarter and from 13.9% in the third quarter to 14.2 % in the fourth quarter which is 4.2% higher than the rate recorded in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The report further revealed that there was a reduction of 977,876 representing 1.8% of the number of persons in full-time employment in the fourth quarter of 2016. The series of statistics presented are a clear testament to the fact that unemployment in Nigeria has really become a thorny issue. It, therefore, underscores the need for the youth to seek alternative means of livelihood sustainability.
Speaking during the 1st Annual Youth conference organized by The Great Minds in collaboration with the National Youth Assembly of Nigeria, Enugu State chapter recently, the founder, Women Aid Collective, Prof. Joy Ezeilo said that unemployment has increased the rate of poverty, inequality, social exclusion and intimidation and has led young people into drug trafficking, migration and human trafficking”.
Prof. Ezeilo who spoke on the topic: Youth, Self-Reliance and Livelihood Sustainability rightly observed that the economy of the country has not been able to integrate the survival and future of the youths and it continues to be a source of great concern.
The theme of the conference was: The Restoration of Self-Help Among Nigerian Youths. It would not have come at a better time than now when there is an ever-increasing rate of social vices all of which have been blamed on the youths. The question, therefore, is what must be done?
First of all, we must get rid of the notion that whoever is not gainfully employed after school has practically wasted his life in the university or polytechnic. Everyone must not be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or a politician.
It is important to note that economies around the world today are private driven. A perfect example is China where the private sector is the main driver of growth and employment. Between 2010 and 2012, private sector firms produced between two-thirds and three-quarters of China’s GDP and also accounted for 90% of its exports according to a report by World Economic Forum.
The report by WEC also revealed that China has the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves of 3.21 trillion US Dollars. Between 2005 and 2016, its total global investment and construction activities amounted to a value of about 1.2 trillion US Dollars. It is the world’s largest exporter and the second largest importer of merchandise goods.
There is, therefore, the need for paradigm shift in the education curriculum at all levels. Much Emphasis should be placed on producing graduates who are creative and innovative, rather than merely focusing on bringing forth graduates whose heads are filled with theoretical teachings on professional vocations.
The youth must strive to free their head and their heart from stereotypes of the imperial world of globalization which merely favours western culture and lifestyle and try to be themselves. They must always engage their minds with good reasoning and the hands with great activities in the right direction.
Today, such skills as carpentry, tailoring, welding and livestock farming have been left for the uneducated. If the educated youths embrace these activities, the result will be an immeasurable economic revolution in Nigeria as everything the world applauds today in science and technology are outgrowths of little activities that were advanced to admirable products.
The issue of self-reliance should occupy the front burner of our national discourse because when achieved, it can pave the way for robust economic growth and creation of sustainable wealth in the country.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija