‘Why Nigerian Graduates Aren't Employable’

Former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola, and a former Nigeria ambassador to Belgium and Botswana, Prof. Alaba Ogunsanwo, have given reasons why many graduates in Nigeria are not attractive to employers.

Okebukola, who spoke at the 2014 International Conference organised by Global Education Network, in conjunction with the Faculty of Education, Lead City University, Ibadan, at the institute’s conference centre on Tuesday said the nation’s education sector was guilty of not responding to labour market demands, blaming high unemployment rate on failure of school curriculum to place emphasis on practical concepts in entrepreneurship.

“The curriculum should focus on the development of enterprise that will rapidly grow the Nigerian economy. For our universities, NUC has set the minimum standard for entrepreneurial education and it is gladdened that most institutions have infused these into their programmes,” said Okebukola.

He added that necessary infrastructure must be present in all institutions to enhance economic growth and development.

Ogunsanwo, who presented the lead paper at the event, said it was worrisome that in 2013, 54 per cent of Nigerian youths were not employed due to emphasis on theoretical education, stressing that more than a third of Nigerian graduates lacked entrepreneurship exposure.

He said, “When people talk of an unemployment crisis, it would be more accurate to speak of an education crisis or a crisis of men whose skills are not in great demand at a particular point in time and place. The Nigerian government projects the creation of five million jobs in the next five years in the country. Where agriculture produces more than 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, it is not in doubt that a lot of jobs would be created in that sector. Our educational system would need to respond to the nature of our labour market.”

Making reference to the unfortunate incident where scores of job seekers died during aptitude test for Nigeria Immigration Service jobs, Ogunsanwo said that if the graduates who turned up for the test had been given entrepreneurial training in their tertiary institutions, they would be employers of labour and not job seekers.

“If our youths viewed education as a veritable tool for self-employment, they would not have turned up in such large numbers for relatively few vacancies. The products of our education system at all levels should be prepared while at school through large exposure to entrepreneurship. The curriculum needs to ensure that students realise that their destinies could well be in their own hands rather than concentrating on only paid employment,” said Ogunsanwo. (Punch)

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