GRADUATES AND THE SURVIVAL GAME (PART 1)
Nigeria, said to be the giant of Africa with a robust population of over 150 million, can boast of bountiful supply of human resources; both skilled and unskilled made up of men and women, account for the capital base of the national. However, it would be pertinent to note that the number of skilled but idle far outweighs the unskilled and working. This represents the view of most Nigerian populace on Nigeria and the level of unemployment in its economy.
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In 2006, the rate of unemployment was only 29%. It rose to an outrageous rate of 5.8% in 2007. Thereafter, it fell slightly to 4.9% in 2008. Since then, it remained static at that level till the present 2010 (CIA World Factbook). These statistics do not portray Nigeria economy in the positive as regards employment of human resources because in a country like Britain, 2% rate of unemployment of the labour force is considered very huge. Recent release by the National Bureau of Statistics reports that over 20 million graduates are unemployed in Nigeria. A casual visit to any center where employment aptitude test is being conducted will show one exact level of unemployment in this country. The test conducted by WAMCO consulting firm on behalf of a Dutch company last year witnessed more than 30 thousand candidates. Another test conducted by the same firm on behalf of Honeywell recorded more number.
These candidates were only the ones that met the screening criteria ( that is, 2nd Class Upper), am not talking about those that applied but were rejected. When most banks conducted their own tests, security men (illiterates) were used to drive graduates up and down. Some were flogged, maltreated and humiliated; just because they needed some job.
One hardly passes ten people on the road without coming across at least one unemployed graduate. Some of these graduates have migrated round all the cities of Nigeria in search of jobs; all to no avail. They have moved from Lagos to Port- Harcourt, to Kaduna, to Kano, to Onisha and all over places not worthy of mentioning.
This socio-economic problem of unemployment can be attributed to many and varied causes. Some of the conspicuous roots of the problem include population, academic, curriculum, choice of course of study, laziness, greed, government policies, employment discrimination and government poor implementation of employment polices.
Nigeria is the most populated black nation of the world. The last conducted census put the figure at over one hundred and fifty million. In this great number, more than 50% are in the labour force of the country. What this means is that there will be serious drag for the little available openings of job opportunities available. This offers the answer to the reason why more than thirty thousand Nigerian graduates turn out for a job aptitude test that will not take up to twenty candidates.
More so, some graduates are lazy to work. They want easy life. They expect everything to come in a platter of gold. Most of them are looking for white collar jobs where they will just sit under an air conditioner; do little or nothing and get paid. They will keep looking for that type of job till eternity. A graduate was offered a job as a storekeeper and has the temerity to say that he won’t touch or arrange cartons. This means he is lazy and not yet ready to work. Some female graduates concentrate on posting their pictures to all social networks, dating and match making websites on the internet to cast their bait and know if they can catch a big fish. Nobody wants to bear the cross before wearing the crown any longer.
Furthermore, some graduates are too greedy. Many of them don’t want to start from the scratch. They want to make it overnight. They thought that once one graduates from the university, he becomes supper rich. Most of them only talk about and discuss about the “big shot” in the society without taking out time to read their biographies or at least go through their profiles. If they do that, they will find out that all those men and women have worried and served in various capacities; both low and high before arriving at their present positions. Immediately after graduation, the eyes of these graduates are set on politics, Oil and Gas and Banking (when banking was doing well), ignoring other lesser sectors that are willing and ready to absorb them. They all want to ride fanciful latest cars after three months of their employment. This utopia and mirage because such jobs are semi-nonexistent now.
Again, there is a great discrimination and prejudice going on in the labour market now. Employers of labour are not helping matter at all. Some applicants are prejudiced against on the grounds of sex, age, type of certificates and even tribe or ethnicity. Most office work can be done by both males and females alike; why the sex discrimination then? Why do we use an advert that goes like this: “a young female accountant needed for immediate employment?” Does it mean that a male cannot do that job? Some interviewers give jobs to ladies that are not qualified because they agreed to sleep or have slept with them; leaving behind the more qualified males. Females are equally being discriminated against but mostly married women. Most engineering jobs that involve much field work and constant movement do not consider the married women for employment. Most generation banks don’t consider married women. Some go to the extent of getting the young ladies sign an undertaking that once they get married their appointment are terminated.
Age is another area of discrimination. Banks as well as other blue chip companies are mostly culprits of this offense. Most of them don’t accept any applicant that is above twenty-five years old. They need very young, beautiful and attractive ladies that they will push into the marker for “corporate prostitution.” The young handsome guys are used to entice the sugar mummies to operate accounts with them. These young fellow are pushed back into the labour market once they fail to meet up with the unrealistic targets given to them.
The worst discrimination is that of B.sc/HND dichotomy. Many employers of labour discriminate against the HND holders in favour of their counterparts with B.sc. Although, in the advert they always write B.sc or HND as the qualification needed but when it reaches the actual job placement, the HND holders are jettisoned.
Government equally has a hand in the creation of unemployment in the economy. Some government policies are highly detrimental to job creation in this country. Some graduates who find job pick up motorcycles and become “okada” riders. But some state government thwarted their efforts by laying a ban on okada riding. Many graduates go into the production of local beverages, cosmetics and other little items with little fund they garnered after service but they don’t have the money to register the products with appropriate government agencies like NAFDAC, SON, etc. Some succeeded in creating a small scale manufacturing firms and being asphyxiated by huge and excess taxation.
Many graduates are now reviewing or rethinking their career options in order to adapt to the changing dynamics of the now saturated labour market. While some graduates choose to bend their career paths, others are forced by the prevailing unemployment situation in the country to return to the drawing board and acquire more skills into alternative self-employment in response to the changing times.
Today, thousands of unemployed graduates, some of whom are first- class degree holders from reputable higher institutions across the country are taken up vocations such as riding of commercial motorcycles, popularly called okada and driving tricycles, otherwise called Keke Marwa or Keke NAPEP. Others are barbers, plumbers, carpenters, auto repairers beads makers, fashion designers among others.
All said, my advice is this, do a feasibility study and look inwards for a business vacuum you can fill. Opportunities abound in the society. Think of things that people need and try to provide them at reasonable prices. Don’t be ashame!
©Adeogun Kayode 2016
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