Pius Utomi EkpeI/AFP through Getty Pictures
Nigeria is sitting on a demographic goldmine which may rework the financial system. About 60% of Nigeria’s 200 million individuals are beneath the age of 25, and that quantity is anticipated to extend considerably by 2050.
As a substitute of being an asset, the nation’s burgeoning youth inhabitants has turn out to be an albatross. It poses dangers for the financial system and social cohesion.
Amongst Nigeria’s financial challenges, youth unemployment stays probably the most formidable. The World Financial institution estimates Nigeria’s youth unemployment at 17.7% in 2019 in contrast with 10.8% for Africa. Nigeria’s youth unemployment fee is double the nationwide fee of unemployment.
Official statistics on unemployment in Nigeria typically underestimate the severity of the issue. For instance, they don’t account for the truth that over 80% of Nigerians with main schooling or extra who’re thought to be employed are grossly under-employed in low-productivity informal-sector work.
Actions on this sector sometimes encompass avenue hawking, petty buying and selling, tailoring, shoe mending, home work, roadside meals merchandising, transportation and subsistence agriculture.
The federal and state governments have launched varied measures to handle youth unemployment. These embrace social funding programmes that encourage youth entrepreneurship and assist for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Others are abilities improvement programmes, direct labour for public works tasks, loans for agriculture and varied initiatives to spur entrepreneurship. Regardless of all these efforts 65 million younger Nigerians, or one in three, are anticipated to be unemployed within the subsequent 4 years.
In a latest report the World Financial institution proposed methods for addressing youth unemployment in Nigeria.
One is the creation of protected and authorized labour migration pathways for younger Nigerians to hunt job alternatives in different international locations. This might be in distinction with the present unlawful and threatening migration patterns.
The proposals are laudable, as there are acute shortages of expert staff in some developed international locations. The US, Canada and the UK have launched particular visas for attracting expert staff from different international locations. Employees from Asia, particularly India, have benefited from these alternatives.
The World Financial institution proposes that international locations of vacation spot trying to fill labour shortages present high-quality and industry-relevant coaching to potential migrants and nonimmigrants in Nigeria. This, it argues, would improve the worldwide inventory of staff and contribute to a mind achieve.
The onus would must be on the businesses. It is because many younger Nigerians lack twenty first century abilities desired by international companies.
This proposal is theoretically sound. Nevertheless it poses various questions.
Innovation and disruptive applied sciences have turn out to be salient elements of industrialised economies. Robotics, 3-D printing, precision machining, knowledge analytics, bioinformatics, digital imaging, design and animation all function prominently. Not many younger Nigerian possess these frontier abilities.
This lack of abilities is just not solely a Nigerian drawback; it’s pervasive throughout Africa. This explains it why a lot of labour migration – about 80% – in Africa is intra-regional, somewhat than worldwide. It consists primarily of unskilled staff.
International companies are searching for staff with “productive capacities” that can be utilized in manufacturing, science and technology-intensive sectors, in addition to data applied sciences.
The World Financial institution proposal is predicated on the previous paradigm of competitors wherein labour abundance is a serious driver of aggressive benefit. However that is now not the case, as know-how, data, innovation and abilities have changed labour as the foremost pillars of competitors. The World Financial Discussion board means that 85 million jobs worldwide will likely be in danger as a result of the present job holders lack related abilities.
Thus, makes an attempt at addressing youth unemployment in Nigeria ought to concentrate on elevating the abilities and productive capacities of younger Nigerians.
Along with exploring alternatives within the international labour market, the World Financial institution has advised the creation of home job alternatives. This can be completed if Nigeria is ready to appeal to employment-intensive international companies.
However Nigeria is just not very engaging to international worth chains and international buyers. Overseas direct funding within the nation has been declining inexorably, from 6% of GDP within the mid-Nineties to about 0.5% in 2019.
Why do international IT and pharmaceutical companies favor to find in India and never in Nigeria? Why does Apple manufacture iPhones and iPads in Taiwan? Why do international textile companies favor Vietnam, China and the Philippines? Why has Malaysia, and never Nigeria, turn out to be a serious hub for photo voltaic gear manufacturing?
The reply is straightforward: their younger individuals possess a essential mass of the wanted scientific and technical abilities.
The best way out
Creating protected and authorized pathways for the migration of younger Nigerians will solely be efficient if the next measures are taken.
First, the continued de-industrialisation of the Nigerian financial system have to be reversed. Over the previous 4 a long time there was a gentle decline in manufacturing worth added in Nigeria – from over 20% of GDP within the early Nineteen Eighties to lower than 10% in 2019.
Because of this many younger Nigerians haven’t had the chance to accumulate industrial, technological and modern capacities.
One other impact of de-industrialisation is that it has foreclosed alternatives for college kids in Nigeria’s tertiary establishments to use their classroom studying in industrial contexts. In a survey of corporations in Nigeria, 81% stated they’d problem discovering staff with the related abilities. Additionally it is a motive why international companies don’t discover Nigeria a gorgeous location.
The issue with proposed answer
The World Financial institution proposes a mannequin wherein the non-public sector and the federal government in vacation spot international locations would supply high-quality and industry-relevant coaching to potential migrants and nonimmigrants inside Nigeria.
This proposal is theoretically sound. Nevertheless it poses various questions.
First, how would this coaching be financed? There could also be political resistance by taxpayers in vacation spot international locations to finance coaching programmes that profit the non-public sector and international international locations.
Second, non-public enterprises are sometimes reluctant to spend money on coaching new staff. Funding in coaching is dear. As well as, it might be tough to stop educated staff from taking newly acquired abilities to different enterprises or vacation spot international locations that didn’t incur the coaching prices.
Third, industrial and technical coaching is a long-term course of, however companies are extra all in favour of short-term returns on funding.
Lastly, given the forms and inefficiency of Nigeria’s public sector, it could be difficult to implement a coaching partnership between companies in vacation spot international locations and the Nigerian authorities.
The World Financial institution report additionally notes that Nigerians with related abilities have discovered their method to the US the place they thrive in varied fields. This implies that the issue of youth unemployment is extra about rising the variety of younger Nigerians with twenty first century abilities, and never nearly creating extra authorized migration routes.
Nigeria’s “informal-sector lure” must be addressed earlier than selling a pathway to jobs overseas. Simple entry into the casual sector disincentivises younger individuals from buying high-order abilities to allow them to acquire high-paying formal-sector jobs.
Younger individuals are interested in the casual sector as a result of there are not any abilities necessities. This could be a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in that it simply absorbs the teeming inhabitants of Nigeria’s unemployed and underemployed younger individuals. Nevertheless it’s a curse as a result of it supplies solely a brief succour, and younger individuals are unwittingly discouraged from buying abilities desired by international companies.
Nigeria’s outdated tertiary academic system ought to be revamped. Tertiary establishments in Nigeria produce hundreds of scientists, engineers and technologists yearly, however many find yourself unemployed. It is because their coaching and schooling usually are not related within the up to date labour market.
With out addressing the issues of abilities mismatch and the shortage of digital abilities, younger Nigerians will proceed to overlook out on alternatives within the international labour market.
Stephen Onyeiwu doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that will profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.