Panellists at OrderPaper Parliamentary Engagement Nigeria (OPEN) Space discuss root causes of youth employment in Nigeria
With youth unemployment still a topical issue in Nigeria, stakeholders have made a case for a review of the curricula as part of urgent reforms for the country’s educational system.
This position was echoed on Friday at an Online Parliament Discourse themed: Youth, Jobs and Today’s Nigeria, put together by OrderPaper and Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) held in commemoration of this year’s International Youth Day.
Speaking at the discourse, which took place on the X microblogging platform, Lilian Shamaki, a panelist and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Human Capital Development of Nigeria, described the level of unemployment in the country as alarming. Proferring a solution to the challenge, she called for the underlying causes to be addressed, highlighting suggestions on how to tackle them.
“We have so many challenges, and nothing has been done about it. We have economic issues, lack of infrastructure, power and corruption. But yet again, going to the cause root. At the end of the day, we have a labour force, but we have to identify where we are all coming from, and that is the background (the school and the educational system.
We all went to school in order to get a white-collar job, but the reality is instead of a white-collar job, we have so many skills that we could learn when it comes to skill acquisition, and we didn’t. We come out of the University with no job, and I think we should go back to the root cause of that problem, and that is the curriculum, which is the educational system because the curriculum needs to be reviewed.
Like I said, there is a lack of infrastructure; even if I don’t have a white-collar job, I will need certain basic amenities like the roads and electricity for my business and access to credit, but we don’t have that, and even if we do, the agencies that give loans should be able to advertise those things so that Nigerian youths can take advantage of it.”
The issue of the recent Nigeria Labour Force Survey (NLFS) released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which put unemployment at 5.3% in Quarter Four (Q4 2022) and 4.1% in Quarter One (Q1 2023), was also brought to the fore.
According to the NBS, this aligns with the rates in other developing countries where work, even if only for a few hours and in low-productivity jobs, is essential to make ends meet, particularly in the absence of any social protection for the unemployed.
In the opinion of Ms. Shamaki, “We can’t have a methodology that does not reflect our reality. We have to look at our purchasing power when it comes to our currency. There are so many challenges, and we need to step up and look at our own reality, look at our environment and our context and apply the methodology that will give us the right result.”
However, while making reference to an ongoing probe of the Federal Character Commission (FCC) on job racketeering in the House of Representatives, she stressed the increased effects of corruption on the country, leading to the purchase of jobs rather than earning it based on efficiency.
“Corruption is also a problem, for crying out loud. Of recent, we just heard a news of Federal Character (Commission) saying that they are selling jobs and it is pathetic as a country. We were at an era whereby getting jobs in Nigeria was just based on welfarism instead of efficiency, and now we are using corruption and selling these jobs, and those who actually deserve it, don’t end up getting it.
That is why Japa syndrome started because how can I graduate and have all the requirements, but because of corruption, I can’t acquire a job in Nigeria. I have to leave.”
Meanwhile, concerns were raised about the number of youths who have gotten job opportunities but failed at them due to incompetence. In Lilian’s response, she noted that such issues stemmed from inadequate investment in human capital development and unproductive education, leading to a lack of creativity and innovation among the youth.
“Nigeria has invested poorly on human capital development. The World Bank actually ran a survey, and it shows that Nigeria is at 153 position as compared to 157 countries, that’s to show how poorly we invested in human capital development.
There are lots of youths who don’t have the capacity and that is why we have to go to the root cause of the problem and invest more on human capital development and also review our curriculum. We need to have qualitative education. In fact, another survey was run and it shows that we have 70% learning poverty in Nigeria. This is to say that we use a lot of graduates with certificates but do not have the capacity.
If we had invested a lot, then we should have a lot of innovative and creative minds to build bridges, railway lines and many other things. The root cause is something we need to look at. It is the reality. The government needs to look at how qualitative our education system has to be, and these are the things we take for granted. We need to find a way to hold our leaders accountable and for methodologies that fit our context.
I think the best they can do is to set goals to cushion the effect of unemployment and perform their oversight functions. Whatsoever law that has been passed should also be implemented to the latter,” she added.
OrderPaper; Nigeria’s foremost parliamentary monitoring organisation and policy think tank that bridges the gap between people and parliament, put together the OrderPaper Parliamentary Engagement Nigeria (OPEN) Space on a monthly basis to discuss key issues around the parliament and democracy in Nigeria.
The August episode, held in partnership with Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) Africa, is in commemoration of International Youth Day, observed annually on 12th August since 2000. With the global theme for the Day being ‘Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World;’ the discourse was put together to discuss issues centred around youths and a celebration of their potential as partners in today’s global society.
Moderated by OrderPaper’s Head of Innovation and Editorial, Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq, and Blessing Simon, its Communications Assistant, the conversation featured Lilian Shamaki, a staunch advocate for women as well as youth empowerment and Ebenezar Wikina, Founder of Policy Shapers, a civic startup that empowers young people with the knowledge, skills, and tools to engage with public policy.