«ABSTRACT: The issue of graduate unemployment has been in the front burner of discourse in the nation in recent years with the churning out of ...»
Global Journal of Human Resource Management
Vol.2, No.3, pp. 28-36, September 2014
Published by European Centre for Research Training and Development UK (www.eajournals.org)
EMPLOYABILITY OF TERTIARY EDUCATION GRADUATES IN NIGERIA:
CLOSING THE SKILLS-GAP
Dr. (Mrs.) O.O. Sodipo
Department of Business Administration, McPherson University, Seriki-Sotayo, Ogun State
ABSTRACT: The issue of graduate unemployment has been in the front burner of discourse in the nation in recent years with the churning out of graduate’s year in, year out clogging further the labour market. Even with the large number of unemployed graduates in the country, employers of labour still find it difficult to fill the existing few vacancies that crop up from time to time because these graduates are often found unemployable. They lack certain requisite skills for sustainable employment. These skills create a gap in their knowledge which should have been embedded in the curriculum used in the process of training them. From the literature reviewed, the paper looked into what the employers actually want, recognising the gaps in the required skills and how these can be incorporated into the curriculum the students are exposed to before they graduate. This curriculum should expose them to skills apart from technical and professional skills that will make them employable or make them self-employed, reducing greatly the number of unemployed people in the nation. This will stem the tide of rising social menace in the country often created by joblessness, which if not addressed can threaten the stability of the nation.
KEYWORDS: Employability, Skills-Gap, Employability Skills, Unemployment, Entrepreneurship.
INTRODUCTIONThe Issue of Unemployment has been in the front burner of discourse in the nation in recent years.
Year in, year out, tertiary institutions made up of Universities, Polytechnics, Monotechnics and Colleges of Education, about 322 in all excluding Technical Colleges (Educational and Employability Survey Report – March 2014) had been churning out graduates that have continued, to clog up the labour-market, thereby, increasing the growth rate of unemployed youths in the nation. Unemployment is defined as an economic condition in which individuals seeking jobs remain unhired (Eurostat, 2013). It can also be seen as the share of the labour force that is without work but available for seeking employment. The unemployment rate is a useful measure of the health of a particular country over time as it has both social and economic implications. Rising incidence of unemployment results in loss of income for individuals, reduces revenue for governments, hinders economic growth and increases pressure on government- spending on social benefits in advanced countries especially.
Employers of labour often complain that some of these graduates though professionally or technically qualified are unemployable, in that they lack the requisite, essential skills or competencies needed in the job or for sustainable employment. These skills create a gap in their ISSN 2053-5686(Print), ISSN 2053-5694(Online) Global Journal of Human Resource Management Vol.2, No.3, pp. 28-36, September 2014 Published by European Centre for Research Training and Development UK (www.eajournals.org) knowledge which must be filled to make them suitable to compete for few, existing vacancies that crop up from time to time.
According to a recent survey report on the Effect of the quality of tertiary education on employability of fresh graduates, carried out by Philips Consulting in March 2014, the current education system does not appear to be producing graduates with generic and essential skills, hence the continuous increase in the rate of youth unemployment. They further said that 24 million jobs are needed over the next ten years to reduce the current unemployment level by half. Even with that, large number of graduates have continuously been found incapable of meeting up with the employment requirements of the work force and have thus been unsuccessful in either securing or keeping a job. This is a challenge for employers in filling their graduate vacancies; even with high level of youth unemployment in the country.
The thrust of this paper is to look into what these missing skills creating a gap are, taking the viewpoints of some employers of labour and Human Resources Managers, how they can be addressed in the process of training these graduates and the need to close the missing gaps to make them able to compete for jobs in the labour market. This is necessary for sustainable, economic development of the nation. The paper will also provide an insight into the needs of the employers i.e. what they want from their employees, identify and discuss the gaps in their knowledge with a view to recommending possible solutions to this problem.
Unemployment trend across the globe The global economic crisis that began in 2007 has had a huge effect on the number of unemployed people around the world. According to International Labour Organisation (ILO) Global Employment Trends 2013 report prepared by Guy Ryder, the number of unemployed people around the world increased from 178 million in 2007 to 197 million in 2008 with a peak of 212 million reached in 2009. After 2013, the rate is again on the rise. The economic outlook and the inadequacy of policy to counter this has weakened investment and hiring. This has prolonged the labour market slump in many countries, lowering job creation and increasing unemployment duration.
Statistics from Eurodata in February 2012, sourced from www.gfmag.com. compares unemployed rate globally from the United States of America (U.S.A), Europe and the United Kingdom (U.K), In the U.S the unemployment rate had a record high in 2010 (9.6%), steadily and slowly decreasing to 7.7% in 2013. The Euro Area was very had hit, 9.6% in 2009, growing steadily to 11.7% in
2012. Greece had 7.7% in 2008, grew to 23.8% in 2012. Ireland 6.3% in 2008 to 14.8% in 2012.
Spain, 8.3% in 2007 to 24.9% in 2012. In the U.K, 5.4% in 2007 to 7.9% in 2010 to 8.1% in 2012.
In Nigeria, the situation is gloomier. Statistics according to National Planning Commission’s Performance Monitoring report on government’s Ministries. Department and Agencies (MDA’s), shows the unemployment rate in 2010 was 21% which rose to 23.9% in 2011. A National Baseline Youth Survey Report by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reveals that 54 % of Nigerian Youths were unemployed in 2012 out of a total population of 64 million comprising youths aged between 15 and 35 years. Of this figure, 51.9% are female, compared to 48.1% male.
ISSN 2053-5686(Print), ISSN 2053-5694(Online) Global Journal of Human Resource Management Vol.2, No.3, pp. 28-36, September 2014 Published by European Centre for Research Training and Development UK (www.eajournals.org) This alarming situation which is a real, serious social problem if not checked can be a huge time bomb that could blow up in the face of the nation. No wonder the high incidence of crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism, terrorism (Boko-Haram menace), prostitution, drug peddling and other social vices, being exhibited brazenly in the country. All these can be traced to the high rate of employment in the country. The people in this category are becoming more and more hopeless and desperate. The recent incidence of recruitment exercise across 33 states of the country and Abuja organized by the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS) which left 18 Nigerian Youths including 3 pregnant women dead at Abuja, Minna and other centres while 100 people got injured during a stampede (P.M News, March, 18 2014) shows the level of degradation the issue of unemployment has sunk into.
Employability of Nigerian Graduates.
Oyesiku, 2010 in a paper, giving the synopsis to a workshop, organized by Ogun State Bureau of Tertiary Institutions in 2010 revealed that available statistics shows that the nation’s job creation capacity is growing at an annual rate of between 5% and 7% over the last seven years. Meanwhile, about 213 Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education in the country then produced over 300,000 graduates annually; a number that should ordinary meet the country’s human capital resources needs, but employers willing to pay well to attract skilled workers are increasingly, finding it difficult to fill job vacancies.
Oguntuase (2013) opines in an article: Unemployability of Nigeria Graduates: Myth or Reality?
that products of the Nigerian University system have at different forum been challenged to test their suitability or otherwise to secure few available white collar jobs. He went further to say that the situation is not only sympathetic but embarrassing that the vast human material resources available to the country had not been trained and utilized to the advantage of the country. He cited Tunde Lemo, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) saying that it has become evident that very modern day Nigeria graduates are not employable, Lemo went on to say that the Nigeria Education system is bedeviled by myriads of problems ranging from poor funding, undue interference, poor staffing, overcrowding and management incompetence. Oguntuwase also cited in his article, Professor Sola Fajana, who explained that the dismal performance of many graduates in the labour market was due to faulty curricular in most Nigerian universities, that most programmes run in the universities are no longer relevant. He also said that classroom teaching mostly focus on concepts and not marketable skills.
Oyesiku (2010) went on further to say that tertiary institutions are being reproached for declining quality of educational outputs due to deterioration in teaching and physical facilities, inadequate funding, quality of inputs into the institutions, government and private sectors’ lack of support and the curricular for teaching the students. He is of the opinion that there is a sharp decline in required skilled graduates available to the labour market, that is, there is a gap between the demand for and the supply of graduates into the market. There is the need to identify the skills that the graduates need to close the gap between unemployment and the ‘unemployables’. Demands of the industry are high on institutions to produce resourceful and competent graduates.
ISSN 2053-5686(Print), ISSN 2053-5694(Online) Global Journal of Human Resource Management Vol.2, No.3, pp. 28-36, September 2014 Published by European Centre for Research Training and Development UK (www.eajournals.org) Akanmu (2011) also opined that despite an average economic growth rate of about 7% per annum over the last seven years, a good performance by global standards, wage employment is estimated to have declined by about 30%. Nigeria’s strong economic performance over the last decade has not translated to jobs and real life opportunities for its many youth. Akanmu said further that three out of ten graduates of tertiary institution cannot find work. Being highly educated does not increase the chance of finding a job. Those who find work are not usually gainfully employed.
Some are forced to accept marginal jobs that do not use their qualifications in sales, agriculture and manual labour citing the British Council sponsored Nigeria – Next Generation Report. For those who are lucky to find jobs, employers are concerned about their skills and suitability with their job requirements.
Employers are getting worried over the competency of the graduates that do apply for very limited job vacancies. They want the graduate recruits to be professionally competent in their chosen fields. They also want them to be equipped with complementary life skills such as problem solving, reflective and critical thinking interpersonal and teaming skills, effective communication character, integrity, self esteem, self discipline, organizing skills, leadership skills and the ability to translate ideas into action. The problem is that these skills are rarely taught in schools and these are the gaps that are missing in a graduate’s ability to be gainfully employed even when the jobs are there.
Sodipo (2010) affirmed this in a survey carried out on the level of competency of tertiary education graduate employed in the Ogun State Civil Service between 2004 and 2006 and found out the following. Out of 74 Directors of Administration in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies that responded to the questionnaire administered.
1. 50% of the respondents agreed that the level of competency is poor.