Unemployment- Hard Times and Swollen Feet
Nigeria’s unemployment rate has once been described as a mystery locked inside a box, as the bureau of statistics has done a marvelous job of keeping up with macroeconomic data on every other headline macroeconomic indices except the national unemployment rate. Indeed, inquiries concerning the Q4 2018 to Q1 2020 unemployment numbers revealed that the federal government had been shy in spending money on collating the unemployment figures for the missing periods for reasons that are yet to be explained.
The unemployment rate for Q2 2020, however, stood at 27.1% up from 23.1% in Q3 2018. The reason why the rising unemployment rate is such a major concern in Nigeria is that it is estimated that over 60% of the country’s population is between the ages of 16 and 35 years, making it one of the youngest populations on the planet. This implies that the demography would require broader access to qualitative education, superior healthcare facilities, and improved opportunities for their skills and learning to be deployed to rapidly growing sectors of the economy. So far, has not happened.
The structure of the Nigerian economy (high dependence on oil for foreign exchange earnings and low domestic manufacturing activities) suggests that many young persons will remain unemployable. The country has an estimated 40.5m small and medium-sized businesses with the majority of these enterprises barely able to scrap up decent earnings as high running costs clip their wings. Unfortunately, the country’s educational system has only recently started to reposition its admission policy and curricula to favour the hard sciences in contrast to liberal arts and the social sciences. The mismatch between qualifications and job requirements will produce a pressure cooker society with crisis persistently simmering just beneath the surface.