Discover how we are providing lasting solutions to unemployment in Nigeria. The key to securing gainful employment is acquiring essential skills that are relevant in today’s world.
Unemployment appears to be the root of the majority of social crimes committed by graduates in today’s Nigerian society. The rise in prostitution, armed robbery, oil bunkering, cybercrime, drug addiction, trafficking, rape, abduction, and other forms of social vice may be traced in great part to the rise in unemployment.
According to Osalor (2012), Nigerian tertiary institutions graduate a minimum of 300,000 students each year, and this number continues to rise arithmetically, if not geometrically, resulting in more unemployed Nigerians roaming the streets. The ramifications of widespread unemployment in Nigerian society are not far-fetched, as poverty is a negative factor that leads individuals to engage in illicit activities in order to earn a livelihood.
We are in dire times
Nigeria witnessed the macroeconomic impact of the decrease in international oil prices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, causing the country to enter a recession in the third quarter (Q3) of 2020. The gross domestic product (GDP) fell by -3.62 percent year on year in Q3 2020, resulting in a full-fledged recession and the second consecutive loss after -6.10 percent in Q2 2020.
Furthermore, the economy’s resurgence in Q3 2020 reflected the lingering impacts of mobility and economic activity limitations imposed across the country in early Q2 2020 in reaction to the COVID-19 epidemic. Nigeria’s GDP increased 0.51 percent year on year (YOY) in the first quarter of 2021, slightly faster than the 0.11 percent increase in the previous quarter, marking the second consecutive quarterly growth since the country’s economy entered recession in the third quarter of 2020, aided by easing COVID-19 restrictions and higher oil prices (Trading Economics, 2021).
Despite the fact that Nigeria’s economy is progressively recovering from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment and inflation have remained high despite the decline in confirmed cases and the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions. Nigeria’s total unemployment rate increased to 33.30 percent in Q1 2021 from 27.10 percent in Q2 2020, with jobless youth accounting for 53.4 percent of the population in Q1 2021, up from 40.8 percent in Q1 2020.
The emergence of the omicron strain of the virus raises the prospect of a coming shutdown. These are definitely ominous times.
Around 497 million young people, or roughly 41 percent of the global youth population, are in the labour force. Of these, 429 million are employed, while nearly 68 million are looking for, and are available for, work (these are defined as unemployed). More than half of young people – around 776 million – are outside the labour force, meaning that they are not in employment and are not looking and available for a job (ILO, 2020).
Unemployment affects 67.6 million young women and men, or 13.6 percent of the youth labour force (Table 1).
Table 1: Youth unemployment rates 2019–2021
Efforts to reduce unemployment in Nigeria
Various initiatives have been implemented by various administrations over time to combat young unemployment, which has been a major public concern since the days of SAP. Indeed, young unemployment became a focal point of the social policy of the military administration that controlled Nigeria for much of its independence. The government’s initial response was to recruit jobless youngsters to public initiatives like Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) and the Directorate of Food, Road, and Rural Infrastructure (DIFRRI), which gave people interested in agriculture immediate and direct work.
More organized and planned measures followed, which are divided into three categories:
Labor demand: this strategy focused on creating jobs immediately through public works or creating certain jobs in the private sector aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and skills enhancement.
Labor supply: this strategy dealt with the training and education of prospective job seekers.
Labor market interventions: this strategy focused on improving the labour market and matching demand and supply interrelationships.
However, with the transition to civilian rule in 1999, successive civilian administrations tried to refocus unemployment programs, discontinuing many of the old programs, restructuring some of them and creating new ones.
Among the policy measures adopted to tackle the hydra-headed malaise of unemployment in Nigeria through job creation as social intervention effort of the Nigerian government include the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) adopted in 2003; Vision 20:2020 of 2009 which later inspired successive national development plans and the Transformational Agenda of 2011-2015 thereby making job creation an integral part of sector level reform; the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (You-WIN); Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) and more recently, the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP) popularly known as NPower programme.
The SURE-P was introduced in February 2012 and focused on management and investment of federal government savings derived from proceeds accruing from the partial removal of the subsidy on petroleum products. The SURE-P was the flagship of efforts to provide job opportunities to graduates of tertiary institutions. It was a whole range of activities and programmatic schemes, including the Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), Community Services Scheme (CSS), Vocational Training Scheme (VTS), and Community Services, Women and Youth Empowerment (CSWYE), among others.
One of the more successful schemes of the SURE-P is the Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), which offered unemployed graduates the opportunity to undergo a one-year internship in firms, banks, ministries, government departments and agencies, as well as in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), relevant to beneficiaries’ disciplines. The purpose of GIS was to help beneficiaries acquire the appropriate skills and practical knowledge that will make them more suitable for the job market.
The History of SURE-P
The establishment of SURE-P can be traced back to the deliberations of the Economic Management Team chaired by the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the last quarter of 2011 on phasing out the oil subsidy. According to Okonjo-Iweala (2018), the debate took place in early December 2011 and it was agreed that there would be further debates and communications with the public, with a tentative implementation of the subsidy phase out in April 2012.
Although, such was the expectation, President Goodluck Jonathan announced the subsidy phase out on January 1, 2012. This created social turbulence in Nigeria, nationwide strikes and massive extremely well-organized demonstrations with Lagos being the epicentre of the public agitations. The tense situation led the President to call for negotiations with labour and civil society and as part of their demands; a program which would be known as the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) was to be established, which would comprise a committee headed by an eminent and trusted Nigerian including labour, civil society and a cross-section of Nigerians who would oversee and manage the subsidy funds.
By 16th January, 2012, after the labour called off the nationwide strike on subsidy removal, SURE-P was established, having Dr. Christopher Kolade as its pioneer Chairman. The scheme became one of the pivots of the Transformation Agenda of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s led-administration after being inaugurated on the 13th of February, 2012.
N-Power is a youth empowerment scheme sponsored by the federal government of Nigeria which addresses the challenge of youth unemployment by providing a structure for large-scale and relevant work skill acquisition and development, while linking its core and outcomes to fixing inadequate public services and stimulating the larger economy. It is a well-articulated policy effort of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari that is aimed at combating the twin evils of poverty and unemployment among Nigerian youths of age bracket 18-35 years through capacity building, investment and direct financial support by the federal government of the Nigeria
The History of N-Power Programme
Following the quest to combat wide-scale poverty, high crime rate and increasing rate of unemployment, the civilian administration of President Muhammadu Buhari designed and implemented its own strategy as National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP). This programme consists of four major components, one of which was the job creation and empowerment initiative otherwise known as N-Power. The N-Power programme was the job creation and youth empowerment initiative of the National Social Investments Programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria designed to help young Nigerians acquire and develop life-long skills to become solution providers in their communities and to become players in the domestic and global markets (NSIP, 2016).
As captured in the N-Power selection and deployment plan in NSIP (2016), the whole idea of N-Power was to ensure that young Nigerians will be empowered with the necessary tools to go on and create, develop, build, fix and work on exceptional ideas, projects and enterprises that will change our communities, our economy and our nation.
Hence, the N-Power establishment committee strategically designed the programme for all eligible Nigerians looking to work gainfully. This was however after the initial programmes were designed for young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 35 before being implemented. The implementation of N-Power was marked with the launching of the programme on June 12, 2016 when its application process commenced through an online process and closed on August 31, 2016. By December 1, 2016, all successful applicants of the N-Power scheme were engaged and the scheme began its operations fully.
However, helpful these programs have been, they have failed to address the increasing rate of unemployment.
How COVID-19 is affecting youth unemployment
Globally, job losses in 2020 were mostly reflected in increased inactivity rather than unemployment. Inactivity grew by 81 million2, accounting for 71% of worldwide job losses, resulting in a 2.2 percentage point drop in global labour force participation in 2020 to 58.7 percent. In 2020, global unemployment rose by 33 million, with the unemployment rate climbing by 1.1 percentage points to 6.5 percent.
New annual estimates reveal that labour markets throughout the world were disrupted on a previously unparalleled scale in 2020. Assuming a work week of 48 hours. In the same year, 8.8 percent of worldwide working hours were lost compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, corresponding to 255 million full-time jobs (ILO, 2021). Working-hour losses were most severe in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in Southern Europe and Southern Asia. Working-hour losses in 2020 (during the heat of the pandemic) were around four times higher than during the 2009 global financial crisis.
Figure 1: Estimates of the working hours, employment and labour income lost in 2020, and projections for 2021
A report by the Africa Union estimates that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “nearly 20 million jobs are threatened with destruction”. In a continent where, 85.8% of employment, and 95% of youth employment, is in the informal sector.
It has been estimated that by 2030, one fifth of the global labour force and nearly one third of the global youth labour force will be from this region. While 10 to 12 million youth enter the workforce each year, only 3 million formal jobs are created. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will likely exacerbate this trend.
In Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), with support from the World Bank, launched the COVID19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS); a monthly survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,950 households to monitor the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other shocks. Their report indicated that the overall share of Nigerians who are working remains slightly lower than before the COVID-19 crisis. Around 71% of the working-age population were working in September 2020 compared with 77% of the working-age population prior to the crisis, in July/ August 2018 when the post-planting round of the 2018/19 General Household Survey-Panel (GHS-Panel) was fielded.
In addition, the World Bank says over 11 million or more Nigerians may lose their jobs due to the high inflation rate, and an estimated 7 million Nigerians may have been pushed below the poverty line in 2020 due to rising prices alone without considering the direct impacts of COVID-19.
Factors enhancing the unemployment rate in Nigeria
There are myriads of factors responsible for youth unemployment in Nigeria. Although a holistic collection or documentation of these factors is lacking, many studies have been carried out to determine these factors in various populations within the country. Based on these selected studies, we’ve categorized the challenges of unemployment into infrastructure, policies, skills and population.
- Lacks of social infrastructures make rural life unattractive
- Concentration of social amenities in the urban centers
- Outdated and inappropriate school curricula
- Rapid expansion of the educational system
- Lack of vibrant manufacturing sector to absorb the youths
- Lack of steady and sustainable power supply
- Gap between government policies and implementation
- Inaccurate public policies relating to employment
- Poor Macroeconomic and business environment
- Excessive Labor market regulation and employment
- Lack of employable skills and experience among youths
- Lack of entrepreneurial skill
- Supply of skilled youth is higher than demand
- Low levels of education among youths
- Lack of job hunt skills
- Lack of career information and business potentials
- Lack of vocational education and technical skills
- Skill mismatch
- Rapid population growth
- Rural to urban migration
Source; Ongbali S. O, Afolalu S. A and Udo M. O (2019). With modification in categorisation.
What Terraskills is doing to solve the youth unemployment crisis
With the introduction of the Graduate Employability Skills (GES) Programme which is poised to equip graduates with requisite workplace skills and Emotional Intelligence (EI) necessary and sufficient for 21st Century living, for self, business, community and the nation Terraskills utilises the Labor Supply strategy which deals with the training and education of prospective job seekers to enhance the employability skills of young Nigerian Graduates. Hence, the development of the GES Model.
The model was developed to meet the needs of graduates and employers of labour; it stems from a holistic research of employers’ needs and the need to deliver a standard training model different from what is attainable in the Nigerian educational system. The model and method of delivery was developed taking into consideration the unique problems of the Nigerian graduate and the factors that surround his/her inadequacies. The model aims at supporting educational and social inclusion of fresh Nigerian graduates through a mechanism of orientation, tutorial action, and practical classes.
The GES model aims at fulfilling the following purposes;
- To create successful learners with:
- enthusiasm and motivation for learning
- determination to reach high standards of achievement
- openness to new thinking and ideas
- the ability to use literacy, communication and numeracy skills
- ability use technology for learning
- the ability to think creatively and independently
- the ability to learn independently and as part of a group
- ability to make reasoned and sound evaluations
- the ability to link and apply different kinds of learning in new situations.
- To create confident individuals with:
- a sense of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing
- secure values and beliefs
- ambition and able to relate to others and manage themselves
- ability to pursue a healthy and active lifestyle
- ability to be self-aware, develop and communicate their own beliefs
- the ability to assess risk and make informed decisions
- the ability to achieve success in different areas of activity
- To create effective contributors with:
- an enterprising attitude
- self-reliance and able to communicate in different ways and in different settings
- To develop individuals with the ability to;
- work in partnership and in teams
- take the initiative and lead
- apply critical thinking and new contexts
- create and develop and solve problems.
- To create responsible citizens with:
- respect for others
- commitment to participate responsibly in political, economic, social and cultural life
- understanding of different beliefs and cultures
- make informed choices and decisions
- the ability to evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues
- the ability to develop informed, ethical views of complex issues.
The Terraskills Model will achieve these by;
Supporting development: it provides participants with a range of measures to support the development of problem-solving skills.
Developing measures targeted at helping participants meet the needs of employers: the measures Terraskills have developed to create and enhance ‘ ‘work readiness” in participants include a combination of basic skills and activities that focus on developing behaviours and attitudes that employers expect from young graduates when they enter the workplace. These measures are tailored to meet individual participant needs; this is why Terraskills utilizes the KYC tool to understand the Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities (SWOT) of each participant. This was taken as a major criterion in developing the GES model taking into consideration the uniqueness of an individual, noting that some individuals may require measures that primarily focus on developing emotional skills before focusing on social skills such as behaviours, attitudes and employability skills. Terraskills have identified that participants benefit from diversified support; this requires input from specialist professionals or via outreach, that is why Terraskills uses professional TED talks, case management, counselling and leadership roles and simulations.
Ensuring flexibility in meeting participants’ individual needs: The GES modules are unique because training is delivered in sub-cohorts; this is targeted at enhancing individual contribution to team building and learning. This is delivered in small groups or a one-to-one basis.
Enhancing employability skills through helping participants achieve work readiness: the model focuses on motivation, building self-confidence and self-esteem to help build a range of skills, and personal qualities to support participants in their overall integration in the workplace.
Creating opportunity through technology: the GES model takes into consideration the importance of technology in the society, workplace and in the lives of participants. Hence, it embraces technology to help young people access skills training and new job opportunities.
Terraskills is poised to train 1000 Nigerian graduates by 2023 under its GES Programme, tagged ‘EMPOWER 1000’. The target is to equip these graduates so that they can compete favourably, get employed and have a meaningful life. The main slogan for Terraskills ‘EMPOWER 1000’ is: Get Skilled, Go for Internship and Secure your future.