Joblessness and challenge of development
The effects of joblessness go well beyond the inability of individuals to meet his daily needs, the society also suffers when a large chunk of its citizenry are idle.
In most societies, unemployed persons are labeled various ‘names’ that are degrading. They also have few associates with family members and friends keeping their distance owing to the fact that such persons are considered less worthy of any societal recognition.
In some countries, an army of unemployed persons is not only a bunch of threat that could easily be influenced into anti-social vices; they are equally centrifugal forces to nations’ development.
With the growing population of unemployed persons in Nigeria, experts say the country is sitting on a time bomb that might blow up in the near future.
The experts submitted that there is an urgent and strategic re-assessment of Nigeria’s economic growth to ensure that such growth addresses the challenges of unemployment and job creation in the country.
At a two-day policy dialogue on job creation in Nigeria jointly organised by the Ibadan School for Government and Public Policy (ISGPP), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Office of the Vice President (OVP) which took place recently in Ibadan, the gathering of stakeholders that include government, academia, industrialists and employers must work together to ensure appropriate policies are put in place to create massive jobs.
The gathering which brought together economic and policy experts drawn from the public and private sectors, including the academia and development agencies, noted that the country’s positive economic strides have failed to translate to an increase in jobs as the unemployment figures in the country continue to soar
Dr. Tunji Olaopa, the Executive Vice Chairman of ISGPP in his welcome address traced the perennial problem of youth unemployment in Nigeria to weak policy conceptualisation, management and evaluation while warning that unless there is an aggressive and proactive job creation and youth employment strategies, the country may experience an uncontrollable social tension and possibly lose a generation of young people.
In his own address, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, the Economic Adviser to the President, remarked that the Federal Government is committed to addressing the unemployment challenges in the country by focusing on and encouraging youth engagement while leveraging on technology and innovations and the provision of enabling environment and policies to drive inclusive economic growth in the country.
He added that the government is interested in opening doors of opportunities for Nigerians through technical cooperation with international industry leaders across the globe with a view to ensuring that Nigerian professionals as well as creative minds are able to access latest technologies, innovations and opportunities.
Frontline statesman, Professor Akin Mabogunje in his contribution called for a holistic economic diversification that will add value to every stakeholder.
He advocated a rethink of the agricultural policy of the government, warning that unless there are land reforms to give titles of lands to farmers, the economic mileage expected from agriculture will remain a mirage.
Professor Ademola Odejide who is the Chairman of the ISGPP Public Policy Group and the keynote speaker, presented the ISGPP/UN-ECA/OVP 2018 report on Employment, Unemployment and Job creation in Nigeria which revealed that the nation’s economy growth process is not employment-intensive and has not been able to generate enough jobs to meet the demand of the country’s growing labour force, adding that a significant proportion of the workforce is negatively affected by varying degrees of employability and skills mismatch.
Speaking further, Professor Odejide pointed out that the low employment-intensity of the economic growth process is directly linked to the structure of the Nigerian economy, which is heavily dependent on oil and gas.
He added that this sector that is primarily responsible for generating economic growth is not labour intensive in terms of its production process.
To this end, standard policies that are directed at promoting economic growth will not effectively respond to the challenge of job creation, he remarked.
He noted that the job creation challenge in the country can be effectively addressed through a comprehensive diversification of the nation’s economic structure, adding that youths must be made industry ready and relevant by equipping them with skills that satisfy the specifications of employers.
He reiterated the importance of investing in a highly productive and skilled workforce as the basis for expanding growth potential and employment opportunities as well as strategic and meaningful contribution to overall national development.