The Guardian
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More Nigerians switch from white-collar jobs to agric, informal sectors




• Over four million people out of jobs since last year
• Under-employment prevails as firms halt downsizing

In an apparent move to cushion the effects of recession and boost household income, more Nigerians have begun to leave white-collar jobs for the informal sectors, latest unemployment report from the National Bureau of Statistics has shown.

With over four million Nigerians losing their jobs since 2015, according to the data, subsistence and small-holder farmers are on the rise, as many Nigerians have also opted for additional jobs in the informal sector to augment their means of livelihood.

Also, the data stated that a single income may no longer be enough for a family, prompting previously out-of-work housewives to seek employment to support strained income.

Indeed, the statistics reinforced the findings of the latest ‘Household Economy Survey’ by Philips Consulting that the prevailing economic situation in the country had resulted in detrimental effects on the economic security of most citizens and households.

Specifically, the severe drop in crude oil prices, decline in government revenue, devaluation of the naira and surging inflation rates, in addition to the country’s high poverty (70per cent) and unemployment (12.1per cent) rates have had a detrimental effect on the economic security of most Nigerians.

Similarly, the NBS report further showed that many employees have had to contend with lesser incomes while newly employed workers had to cope with jobs not commensurate with their qualifications, just as the Federal Government continues to urge many employers of labour not to downsize their workforce.

According to the report, the number of under-employed increased by 392,390 or 2.61 per cent, resulting to increase in the under-employment rate to 19.3 per cent (15. 4million persons) in second quarter of 2016 from 18.3 per cent (13.5 million persons) in corresponding period of last year.

A breakdown of the report shows that more people who previously were not economically engaged are now deciding to look for work as the decline in economic activities may have forced previous housewives, retirees and students to enter the job market to make ends meet.

Within the period under review, the total number of person in full time employment decreased by 351,350 or 0.65 per cent when compared to the previous quarter and also reduced by 749,414 or 1.38 per cent in contrast to second quarter of 2015.

The labour productivity report showed that in Q2 2016, there were a number of challenges that may have impacted on labour productivity, some of which spilled over from the previous quarter.

Director-General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, admitted that many Nigerians were exploring opportunities in the agriculture and informal sectors because many workers have had their salaries slashed while a score of others are being owed for several months.

According to him, the barrier to entry in the agric and informal sectors was low and with the structure to support the private sector crumbling, many workers explore additional jobs to survive while some state governments have given concession for workers to work for a few days during the week in order to engage in agribusiness.

The Acting Director-General, Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Dickson Onuoha, noted that while some vacancies exist, the required manpower and skills were absent, adding that the agency was partnering with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to establish Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) to upgrade capacities.

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