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Again, curbing endless employment crisis

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PHOTO: Deccanchronicle

Indications that youth unemployment has worsened in spite of all the much talked about efforts by the government to create jobs can be frightening. As a matter of fact, the problem has become a major crisis and this is alarming and no longer acceptable as this newspaper has observed for the second time in recent weeks.

As we observed the other day, all the so-called youth employment programmes of the Federal Government such as N-Power, Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin), Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), N-Power and Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI), are ad-hoc measures that do not guarantee stable employment.

This comment is triggered by the teeming unemployed population going by the figures released recently by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). According to the NBS, for instance, the number of unemployed Nigerians rose to 21.77 million in the second quarter of this year (Q2 2020), compared to 20.93 million in Q3 2018.

The data on the nation’s unemployment rate released after a 20-month interval, also showed that the country’s unemployment rate increased to 27.1 per cent in the second quarter of the year (Q2 2020), compared to 23.1 per cent recorded in Q3 2018. The NBS noted that the figure represented an increase of 836,969 persons who were without jobs when compared to Q3 2018.

The number of people with jobs stood at 58.52 million, while 22.94 million people were engaged in time-related jobs or underemployment, as well as 35.59 million persons who had full-time employment. The working age population is estimated at 112.39 million with an active labour force of 80.29 million, while 32.10 million people are not currently in labour force.

According to Labour Force Statistics – Abridged Labour Force Survey Under COVID-19 report, underemployment rate increased to 28.6 per cent from 20.1 per cent in Q3 2018.

The NBS pointed out that unemployment rate among young people (15-34 years) was 34.9 per cent, up from 29.7 per cent, while the rate of underemployment for the same age group rose to 28.2 per cent from 25.7 per cent in Q3, 2018.

The report added that unemployment rate among rural dwellers increased to 28 per cent compared to 23.9 per cent in Q3 2018, while urban dwellers stood at a rate of 25.4 per cent up from 21.2 per cent. Underemployment among rural dwellers further rose to 31.5 per cent from 22.8 per cent, and for urban dwellers, it increased to 23.2 per cent from 13.7 per cent in Q3, 2018.

The report noted that the labour force, which is the number of people who are able and willing to work, increased to about 80.29 million, compared to 90.5 million in Q3, 2018, representing 11.3 per cent decline. Those representing the age bracket of 25-34 represented the highest number in the labour force accounting for 23.32 million or 29.1 per cent of the work force.

In addition, 32.09 million of the population were said to be out of the labour force currently. It added that the number of economically active working age population (15-64 years) also rose by 1.2 per cent to 116.87 million from 115 million in Q3, 2018. However, the NBS cautioned that, “a rise in the unemployment rate is not entirely equivalent to an increase in job losses. Rather an increase in unemployment can occur as a result of several reasons, of which loss of an existing job is just one. But a rise in unemployment generally means the number of people searching for jobs has increased.

What causes an expansion in the size of labour force is the increase in the number of persons within the working age population, who were previously not willing or able to work but who are now available and actively looking for work.

At state level, Imo State has the highest unemployment with 48.7 per cent followed by Akwa-Ibom 45.2 per cent and Rivers 43.7 per cent. States with the lowest unemployment rate include Anambra, Kwara and surprisingly Sokoto with 13.1, 13.8 and 13.9 per cent respectively. Similarly, Bauchi recorded the highest rate of underemployment with 43 per cent followed by Yobe and Adamawa, which both recorded 38.4 per cent.

The way out of the unemployment quagmire is organic engagement. People should be pro-active to create their own jobs. Unfortunately, agriculture has been abandoned with millions of able-bodied youngsters roaming the cities. Micro employment at personal and family levels should be pursued.

But unfortunately, the country is not industrialising. It is through industrilaisation nurtured by entrepreneurship that jobs are created. Though products of agriculture are there, there is no value-chain creation.

Negligence of agriculture and other natural resources is a self-imposed punishment. The country is blessed with abundant arable land as well as unutilised natural resources that could employ millions of people.

Doubtless, the craze for quick oil money has blinded both the government and the people to focus all attention on oil, a resource that is vanishing. The poor economy we are experiencing today is due to over-dependence on oil.

Besides, absence of technical skill, for instance, has become a problem. Youngsters with technical skill in plumbing, masonry, electrical, woodwork, textile making, among others are lacking. The changing education system has robbed the youths of needed skills for self-employment. Nowadays, Nigerians turn to the neighbouring countries for skilled tradesmen. This is unfortunate. That is why there should be constructive thinking about restoration of functional technical schools as this newspaper has consistently noted.

Most Nigerian youths have disdained acquisition of skills and instead opting for the easy way of making money. That explains the swarm of commercial motorcycle riders (okada) at every nook and cranny of the cities. With such poor mentality, these youths grow into adulthood without any skill and that swells the population of the poor.

We need to plan ahead for graduates being regularly churned out of our tertiary institutions.

Meanwhile, there is need for curriculum reform to train skilled and employable graduates.

Government should come up with programmes that will put idle hands into agri-preneurship, public works among others. This will stem the hordes of young people taking to criminality at the moment.


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