The current global economic crisis has resulted to a high level of unemployment around the world. In Nigeria, the situation is even worse owing to the current crash in global oil price that has led to non-availability of funds and high prize of goods in the market. In the 60s and 70s, unemployment was not among Nigeria’s problem because the labour market absorbed the graduates churned out of the universities. Today, the rate of unemployment in Nigeria has reached a level where the heat has become almost unbearable and those at the receiving end are the youths. It accounts for the heinous crimes, banditry, terrorism, separatist agitations, drug peddling etc. on the streets of Nigeria today.

To solve the problem of unemployment in Nigeria, everyone must take a more proactive measure both as individuals and as a nation. We must realize that government and NGOs cannot solve the problem alone owing, especially, to our large population. Hence the concern of this paper is to expose the importance of skills acquisition among youths as a bold step towards curbing the problem of unemployment in the country.

Conceptual Clarification
Unemployment: The International Labour Organization defines unemployment as the “numbers of the economically active population who are without work but available for and seeking work.” This includes people who have lost their jobs and those who have voluntarily left work (World Bank, 1998:63). For Adebayo (1999), unemployment exists when “members of the labour force wish to work but cannot get job.” These people are willing and able to work, but cannot find any job or cannot find the type of job they are trained to do.

Skill Acquisition: Acquiring skill simply means to be trained on a particular craft or handiwork, and become good in it. It involves the development of a new skill, learning a new way of doing something usually gained through training. Such people establish themselves business wise, and employ others in the process. They buy the means of production, while bearing the risks and uncertainties.

Nigerian Situation of Unemployment
Unemployment is seen as one of the major problems bedeviling Nigeria and a major challenge to her development. It is believed to be caused by various factors which includes poor education system, poor skills acquisition and bad governance. It is evident that Nigeria’s struggle to create jobs is getting worse. New data published by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) pegs the unemployment rate at 14.2% in the last quarter of 2019. It is in the ninth consecutive quarter that the unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased. Nigeria’s unemployment rate for the second quarter of 2020 rose to a record-high 27.1% in the newly released figures by the National Bureau of Statistics. Every regime promised to address the issue but the unemployment indices keep escalating which has led to incessant cases of crimes in the country. Many of our youths have resorted to prostitution, drug addiction, drug pushing, kidnapping, political thuggery, terrorism, militancy just to earn a living. Sometimes to get a little job in Nigeria involves huge kickbacks, in cash or in kind, or the inglorious slogan of ‘who you sabi.’ More so, to get assistance such as low cost loans and financial incentives to become self-employed is almost impossible from Nigerian banks.
On the streets of Nigeria, one can easily see hopelessness and frustration on the faces of our youths who are highly qualified but jobless; youths beaming with vision and dreams but have been made beasts by idleness caused by unemployment. Perturbed by this situation, Nigeria’s foremost economist, Prof. Pat Utomi averred that “the unemployment situation in the Country is a time bomb that can explode anytime.” In the same vein, the former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo also remarked that “the mass of unemployed people in the country may spark up revolution soon.” Hence, it is high time the youths started addressing this problem through skills acquisition.

Skills Acquisition, the Way Out of Nigerian Unemployment
With the statistics of unemployment rate made available by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and its prevalence among the youths, who constitute the bulk of the productive force in the population, it therefore becomes a worrisome situation that needs full attention from both the private and public sectors.
The major way out of this alarming increase of unemployment among youths in Nigeria is skills acquisition. It brings about job creation for the one who has acquired the skill and others whom s/he will engage to be of assistance. Skills acquisition is a positive ‘double edged sword’ – as it both creates jobs and increases productivity. For instance, when a particular group of youths are trained in different aspects of farming like Piggery, Fishery or Poultry, they become gainfully employed by their own craft and also go on to increase agricultural produce in the country thereby reducing importation. If the youths acquire skills, they automatically become self-employed. That means, there will be a change in attitude to work and labour, rapid reduction in poverty rate, Independence, increased productivity, job opportunities, amongst others. Skills acquisition will immediately make an individual an indispensable asset as a result of his/her worth.
Skills acquisition among Nigerian youths will generate employment. One who has been trained in a particular craft will employ others to assist him/her in the project. The benefit is that the assistants, in turn, will learn the craft. A skill learnt will be thought to another, who will in turn teach another and the process goes on, thereby ensuring the availability of employment, with a vibrant, skilled and productive manpower. Also, these skills acquired which cuts across every sector like agriculture, ICT, technology, science, music, business, transport, etc, bring about economic growth and development in the country.

The Roles Government has played in fostering Skills Acquisition in Nigeria
Over the year, government of various dispensations in Nigeria has introduced policies and programs that enhance skills acquisition among the youth. This has led to the introduction of entrepreneurial studies and practices in secondary and tertiary institutions. These courses are made compulsory regardless of one’s field of study to encourage self-reliance and job creation and bring about productive youths. The government had also introduced various schemes at different times to foster skills acquisition and create more jobs to the teeming youths who graduate from college on a yearly basis. The first of its kind was the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) established in 2001. Some other schemes include: NDDC Skills Acquisition Training Programme, National Open Apprenticeship Scheme, Directorate of Employment, SURE-P, N-power, etc. To be candid, these programmes have not achieved the desired result. Many of them were hijacked by top government officials who used it to enrich themselves and their cronies.
Looking at the situation of the country at the moment, it is unlikely that the government of Nigeria will suddenly make a turn around and become interested in the welfare of the youth by making skill acquisition and youth empowerments effective. In other words, anyone waiting for the government to empower him or her may have to wait forever. The onus is on the youths to use whatever positive means at their disposal to acquire skills and empower themselves. Get a skill, acquiring skill is seems the best way to survive in today’s Nigeria.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments