With developing countries facing acute unemployment in the formal and informal labor markets Youth unemployment is a global concern. In Nigeria young people account for two thirds of Nigeria’s unemployed and underemployed. According to the 2016 Global Youth Development Index, Nigeria ranked 158th out of 183 countries in the domain of employment and opportunities.
One unique feature of the economic growth problem in Nigeria is its inability to create more jobs. Considering the growing youth population, estimated to reach 135 million by 2020, this is a significant concern. The current growth rate of the population, which outpaces rate of employment generation, is indeed a policy consideration in addressing youth employment and productivity as recent downturn of economic activities further exacerbates the wage employment deficit amongst the youth.
In a nutshell, in Nigeria, thousands of graduates are produced every year but there are no jobs for majority of them. The streets are full of youth hawkers who ordinarily would have found gainful employment in some organizations/government parastatals/ or be self-employed with seed capital from government or finance houses.
With insecurity and electricity, youth unemployment is the third biggest problem confronting our nation today. It is the root cause of poverty, youth restiveness, gangsterism, armed robbery, kidnapping, assassinations, and all sorts of deviant behavior. Among this band of unemployed youths, over three million young boys and girls with NYSC discharge certificates roam the streets of the country in search of jobs that do not exist. Our tertiary intuitions churn out over 200,000 graduates into the job market every year thereby, exacerbating the situation.
Where do we go from here? Youth unemployment will continue to grow unless we turn job seekers to job creators and this is why all stakeholders should join hands to reduce the unemployment rate in the country. Our higher institutions should endeavor to produce employable graduate and those that can create jobs in order to compete favorably with their counterparts around the world. We should go back to technical education and encourage farming. There are so many arable lands across the federation readily available for farming, government can facilitate these land for people to farm.
Nigeria’s youthful population should be an advantage to the economy if well harnessed. In addition to constituting dynamic workforce to produce goods and services, they should also make up the entrepreneurial class to drive the economy. Youths are not assets to waste, and as such strategies and measures should be put in place to ensure that the skills, strength and ideas of our youthful population is harnessed.
Nigeria must see unemployment as a monster debilitating our collective existence. Instead of amassing military arsenal against kidnappers and robbers etc, it is time to fight the root cause which is unemployment. Youths of a nation are the trustees of its posterity and the last line of defense in times of wars and emergencies. They are indispensable human capitals that should be nurtured and preserved for national development.
Many countries have tackled the issue of unemployment using different strategies and methods. China has used the massive manufacturing and export approach, while India is using the service industry to meaningfully engage her massive population.
That youth unemployment in Nigeria is endemic is stating the obvious. Its consequences on both the youth and the entire country cannot be relegated to the background hence the waning of agricultural practices, lingering poverty, hunger, social vices and insecurity
It is worrisome that youths and graduates willing and able to work cannot find a job and as such earn nothing. Such individuals are frustrated, vulnerable and can be used by scrupulous elements in the society to perpetrate all sorts of crime, which they would abhor if they were productively engaged or gainfully employed.
Youth empowerment and development are the magic wands that can change the story, yet it has not been duly explored. It has been and observed that corruption also increases unemployment and that government have a role to put in place measures to salvage the unemployment situation of the country.
Some of these measures should include an audit of the policies and programmes of youth development and empowerment to avoid duplication and streamline spheres of operation. Programmes should not be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, rather, they should be judged by their abilities to accomplish the objectives for which they were created. Government should get credit institutions to spread their activities beyond the “comfort zones” in which they currently operate, such as local government and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Importantly, a sustained education and enlightenment program on job creation opportunities in the country should be put in place.