Still on rising unemployment

Unemployed youth

Despite the much-talked about efforts by government to create jobs for the teeming population of unemployed youth through different programmes, indications are that the worsening unemployment situation assumed an alarming proportion. This fact is underscored by the figures released the other day by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). And something must be done to remedy the situation before it becomes a time-bomb.

According to the NBS, Nigeria’s unemployment level rose from 14.2 per cent to 18.9 per cent in 2017. At the same time, the country’s labour population increased from 83.9 million in the second quarter to 85.1 million in the third quarter of 2017, a difference of 1.2 million.In its latest report titled, “Unemployment and Underemployment Report from 1st Quarter to Third Quarter 2017” the NBS said the total number of people in full-time employment declined from 52.7 million in the second quarter 2017 to 51.1 million in third quarter.

At the same time, unemployment increased from 16.2 per cent in the second quarter 2017 to 18.8 per cent in the third quarter 2017. The number of people within the labour force who were in unemployment also increased from 13.6 million and 17.7 million respectively in the second quarter 2017 to 15.9 million and 18.0 million in the third quarter 2017 It stated that the combined total unemployment and underemployment increased from 37.2 per cent in the previous quarter to 40.0 per cent in the third quarter.

During the third quarter of 2017, the report said that 21.2 per cent of women within the labour force aged 15-64 were unemployed compared with 16.5 per cent of men.It is obvious, from the foregoing, that Nigeria is faces a grave situation, that requires urgent attention. The multitude of university graduates and graduates of other tertiary institutions who have been hit by unemployment should be a matter of grave concern to all. Something needs to be done to redress the situation and the solution lies, certainly not in rhetoric but in a well-thought out policy framework.

This newspaper has in previous editorials, highlighted some of the factors behind the unemployment situation factors such as epileptic power supply, exit of foreign companies and shutting down of many others, poor quality education resulting in ill-equipped graduates, low self-employment culture. The truth is that government alone cannot create jobs. There are several fundamental requirements to address the unemployment problem.

Organic engagement is the answer. People should be pro-active to create their own jobs. Unfortunately, agriculture has been abandoned and millions of able-bodied youngsters roaming the cities instead of being on the farm. Micro employment at personal and family levels should be pursued.The country is not industrializing through which jobs are created. The products of agriculture are there but there is no value creation.

Negligence or poor exploitation of opportunities in agriculture and other natural resources is a self-imposed punishment. The country is blessed with abundant arable land as well as unutilized natural resources that can employ millions of people if exploited. But the easy money from oil has blinded both the government and the people to anything outside oil. The cash crunch in the country today is as a result of the over-dependence on oil.

Absence of technical skills, also has become a problem. Youngsters with technical skill in plumbing, masonry, electricals, and other vocations are lacking. The changing education system has robbed the youths of needed skills for self employment.For a long time, most Nigerian youth disdained acquisition of skills and instead opted for easy way of making money or to obtain certificates for its own sake. So they have paper qualification without skills. With such poor mentality, these young men and women grow into adulthood without any skill and swell the population of the poor.

Infrastructure is also a necessity to enable productive engagement. Nigeria needs to plan ahead for graduates being churned out of the tertiary institutions on yearly basis. Nigeria needs leadership with foresight to do that. There is need for curriculum reform to train skilled graduates and Nigerians are ready to follow a well-articulated and designed policy pathway. Government should come up with programmes that will engage idle hands in agriculture and public works to stem the tide of unemployment and prevent young people from taking to criminality.

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