For a nation with a high youth population, Nigeria’s unemployment numbers are jarring. The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment says more than 24.5 million Nigerian youths are unemployed –– more than half of the nation’s youth population.
Following the COVID- 19 related global economic recession and the resulting economic shutdown, even more youths are on the path of losing their jobs. The pandemic ushered in the realities of the 4th Global Industrial Revolution, which is rapidly changing the way we live and work. Many companies are increasingly opting for remote operations, directly resulting in downsizing and layoffs. The implication of this includes too many people chasing too few jobs available.
Each year, the 322 Nigerian tertiary institutions made up of universities, polytechnics, monotechnics, and colleges of education churn out thousands of graduates who have continued to clog up the labour market, only increasing the number of young unemployed people. Yet, many employers contend that Nigerian graduates are unemployable.
Today, many of these graduates depend only on college certificates with little or no additional practical skills or certifications. Passing exams and graduating from institutions of higher learning is no longer enough. Competence and skills are what high-rated employers are looking for globally. Unfortunately, less than 20 percent of Nigerian graduates possess the requisite skills, which account largely for their unemployability in the global labour market, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Issues contribuiting to Nigeria’s unemployment
Why are Nigerian Graduates Unemployable?
There is a wide berth between education and employers’ expectations. Lapses in our educational institutions fail to prepare graduates for the future of work and the next economy. Information obtained from Lagos Business School reveals that the academic curriculum in Nigeria’s educational institutions – nursery, primary, secondary, and tertiary are older than the country itself. It further highlighted a vast difference in perception about what employers expect and what the job seekers can offer.
The findings of a 2010 survey carried out by Afterschool Graduate Development Centre (AGDC) on youth Employability reveal that:
- 48% of employers rated young graduates poor in conceptual and creative thinking.
- 44% of employers rated young graduates poor in self-awareness.
- 39.6% of employers rated young graduates’ poor’ in time management
- 36% of employers rated young graduates poor in global and commercial awareness
- 34.1% of employers rated young graduates poor in the sense of career direction
- 34.1% of employers rated young graduates poor in emotional intelligence.
- 31.9% of employers rated young graduates poor in managing school to work transition
What is the way out?
The adoption of new technology such as automation, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things (IoT) will undoubtedly affect how employees perform their jobs. These sorts of technology may take over a few tasks employees perform as part of their careers. More than one-third of the skills considered essential for today’s work would have changed in a short time (WEF 2018). Klaus Schwabs (2016) estimated in the Fourth Industrial Revolution that 47 percent of total employees in the United States are at risk of losing their roles to automation over the next two decades. Interestingly, these predicted changes also bring new opportunities. Technology will also likely bring new jobs to the workplace.
The growing role of big data, for instance, is predicted to cause a shortfall of up to 250,000 data scientists in the United States in the following decades.
However, one of the critical strategic measures to ascertain the transformative impact of the fourth industrial revolution is the preparedness for the future of work. To stay ahead of the curve, educators and students need to commit to lifelong learning to acquire and sustain the relevant skillset required to succeed in the ever-changing workplace of the future.
Such efforts include:
Franken (1993) describes creativity as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may help solve problems, communicate with others, and entertain ourselves. Human workers will need to be creative to fully realize the benefits of all the new things for the future.
A machine cannot easily replace a human’s ability to connect with another human being. People retain control over the ability to be aware of, control and expect their own emotions and be mindful of others’ feelings. It will remain a high demand skill in many future workplaces.
The 4th industrial revolution is fueled by technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, big data, virtual reality, blockchains, and more. This means that everyone will need a certain level of comfort around technology. At the most basic level, employees in most roles will be required to access data and determine how to act on it. At a more fundamental level, everyone needs to be able to understand the potential impact of new technologies on their industry, businesses, and jobs.
Embracing change will become a critical issue for Nigerian graduates. Due to the speed of change in the future workplace, people will have to be agile and embrace and celebrate change. They must adapt to shifting workplaces, expectations, and skills set. Young people must understand that an essential skill during the 4th industrial revolution will be the ability to see change not as a burden but an opportunity to grow and innovate.