Exiting the fast lane of death

September 23, 2014

Unemployment has become a global issue and more emphasis has been placed on youth unemployment in recent times. According to International Labour Organization (ILO), the global youth unemployment is projected to reach 12.8% by 2018 while in Nigeria the unemployment rate is 23.9%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Despite youth unemployment being a global crisis, the situation in Nigeria is in dire need of a sustainable solution. According to Doero Partners (2013) with the increase in unemployment, Nigerian youths are affected the most accounting for three times the general unemployment.

Every year Nigerian universities produce tens of thousands of graduates (both secondary and tertiary level) eager to take over the world, to take that first step that will launch into a thousand steps.  In Nigeria an average student spends 18 years of his/her life acquiring knowledge and yet more than 60% of the youth are either unemployed or underemployed. This has been seen to produce socio-economic vices such as insecurity and instability (the Boko harm crisis, kidnapping, theft, Niger delta Militancy), poverty, lack of innovation to name a few.

Salami (2013) adequately sums up the current situation “One implication of this is that in  another one to two decades most of the youths of today will be parents in their mid life years, and with little or no  adequate skills in a fast emerging competitive global economy, it is doubtful how they can propel the needed wheel of development”. With these problems the issue of educational value in Nigeria comes into play. It’s not a secret that Nigeria’s educational system is deteriorated. With such poor system of education, one can only begin to imagine the quality of education being given to the next generation of policy makers. In 2013, lecturers in Nigerian universities went on 8 month strike over the issue of not honouring the agreement entered into by the dons and federal government several years ago.

This then begs the question of what importance has the Nigerian government placed on education. Adequate education plays a key role in reduction of unemployment.

The new idea now is to educate and encourage youths on the ideology of creating jobs as opposed to seeking for jobs, hence the role of entrepreneurship needs to be encouraged. This includes, human resource management via workshops, seminars and university courses that promote entrepreneurship, government intervention (creating an enabling credit facilities, land and incentives that drive youths into entrepreneurship), encouraging a backward movement of urban-rural migration.  In other to achieve this, one cannot deny the fact that an effective system (socio-economic) needs to be created.

Before entrepreneurship can be effective, a reorientation to call back the culture of hard work, integrity, honesty, character and patience needs to be instilled in to the youths. An easy way to life leads to the fast lane of death. The Nigerian government needs to see the link between unemployment and entrepreneurship and develop policies enabling such a marriage. A widely accepted definition for entrepreneurship is still a debate amongst scholars, world leaders, however I have adopted Stevenson and Gumperts (2002) cited in Salami(2013) in which they state that entrepreneurship is a capsule in which individuals/groups of individuals chase opportunities, satisfying wants and needs, through creativity and innovation as well as tackling the risks involved.

While some policy makers, authors, economists may contend that this is not the main universal remedy to youth unemployment I believe that, in a conducive environment and adequate education and technical know how it can go a long way in reducing youth unemployment.

"Chizoba Obidigbo is a Research Associate of the African Heritage Institution (AfriHeritage)."


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