The Nigerian Graduate And The Unemployment Dilemma

I find a number of things perplexing these days… While around the world there is so much noise about youth unemployment, the same is also true in Nigeria. It is a top discussion topic across society and affects everyone and everything – from the youth themselves and their families to potential employers across sectors and government. We’re all concerned because it impacts on the development and progress of our society. Definitely. But looking around the country at the multitude of unemployed graduates to the thousands others soon to join the numbers upon graduation, I have always wondered where the problems really lie and what the solutions can be. As a fresh graduate myself, this affects me and many close to me and I ask you to please indulge my random musings in this post. In Nigeria, Tuesday editions of The Guardian newspaper is known for publishing vacancies, and has always historically been the go-to source for the latest vacancies by any serious jobseeker. That, combined with numerous other internet job boards, many jobseekers have taken their search online. A simple Google or specialist job website search will reveal myriads of job vacancies in Nigeria. And herein lies my confusion. Since there are such high numbers of graduates in Nigeria, why are they not easily filling these vacancies? And since there seems to be a high need for new recruits by employers as evidenced by the myriad of job advertisements, what then seems to be preventing these jobseekers from being successfully matched with the thousands of available jobs? In essence, what is the missing link? I decided to conduct a quick informal poll of my own among my friends and online followers. The responses I got were both eye-opening and mind-boggling at the same time. Some respondents took the conspiracy theory route – that the majority of advertised vacancies were mere propaganda and already have candidates, identified and selected for the said jobs. Conclusions to support this view can be drawn from the recent Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment debacle. Other respondents proposed that the job requirements advertised (such as minimum five year work experience, very specific skills requirements, post graduate qualifications, international experience , etc..), were simply unattainable and young graduates with 0 – 3years post-graduation do not stand a chance. The common slogan from employers is that the average Nigerian graduate is simply unemployable. I wonder what they mean by this and I intend to find out in my next posts. But I have my own opinions about it all. My initial thoughts are how a young graduate can gain the required five years job experience and skills without being employed first? Drawing on the arguments of the Nigerian employer that Nigerian graduates are not job ready upon graduation, I wonder what role our universities can play in achieving this. I also wonder what steps the Nigerian employer is taking, if any, to work with our universities to meet their recruitment needs and fix the obviously missing link. As I pointed out earlier, these are just my own random musings. In the meantime, I’d be interested to know what your views are on this discordant situation of graduate joblessness and job vacancies advertisements in Nigeria? This post was created with the kind collaboration of Yemi Makinde, Founder, Akada Network, and was first published in April 2014 on Akada Network Community Square Section