The World Bank recently released a report analysing the Nigerian labour market and proffering solutions to the several challenges faced by the market. The factors they have advised the country to adopt, need to be applied as a way of changing the narrative surrounding the availability of mostly low productivity and low income jobs.
Employment in Nigeria is mostly hinged on scenarios like when Lawal waits 5 or more years after the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme to get a job that pays as little as N45,000. And this is considered a fair scenario when compared to Bidemi who waits for about 8 years to get a job in a field she has no interest in but is advised by family members and friends to ‘manage’ the situation till she finds something better, which may never happen.
First of all, the report – More and More Productive Jobs for Nigeria: A Profile of Work and Workers, released on March 15, 2016, appraises employment in Nigeria. According to the report, in 2011, the employment and even literacy level in the country was underwhelming, a condition that still remains the same even now, in 2016.
As the polls below suggest, job creation remains one of the critical issues for Nigeria, due to the fact that several factors including low literacy levels, social and political unrest as well as regional inequality make it almost impossible for many citizens to be employed.
However, the World Bank report also looks into several prevailing circumstances that may be hurting the country’s labour market, painting a clear picture of the need to adjust these conditions.
Uneven distribution of workers – According to the World Bank, educated Nigerian workers are more than often concentrated in the public sector in sharp contrast to the private sector. This seems to be a situation that cannot be helped as many believe private firms in the country do not have the capacity to hire as many people as its public counterpart. However, the truth is many educated workers would rather open up their own businesses, as a lot of millennials are doing these days. The World Bank notes that the level of education is significantly higher in the public than in the private sector.
Skills need to be constantly upgraded – Even those who find themselves maintaining a job in the country need to pay constant attention to skill acquisition in their fields of employment. For people who are unemployed, they need to also concentrate on gaining as many skills as they can while they await the job of their dreams. According to the World Bank, modernising economies and structural transformation require new forms of skills. Even in lower-middle-income countries like Nigeria, the skill content of different occupations keep expanding, placing new demands on workers. Most times, companies and establishments who need to downsize, go straight for those who have remained the same way, career wise, for several years.
Jobs should be created in both urban and rural areas – Seriously, this is an important way to spread employment evenly around the country. Individuals are advised to avoid mass migration to urban settlements but it is difficult to discourage this as most of the jobs available are situated in these areas. This presents a massive problem as many Nigerians in urban cities like Lagos, reside in the rural settlements, not the highbrow areas where they pay so much to get to everyday. How many companies willingly decide to have a branch of their office in rural areas in Nigeria? During a 2015 conference organised by real estate outfit, Fine & Country, Zenith Bank Managing Director, Jim Ovia, noted the disparity that exists between where rural dwellers work and where they live in Nigeria, having to travel miles on end to get to work.
Introduction of safety nets – According to the World Bank, the government needs to introduce safety nets – which could be a solution to the growing poverty rate in Nigeria. This is because even the employed in the country end up taking full care of relatives who have no jobs, reducing any chances of personal wealth development which could be a catalyst for poverty reduction in the country. With these safety nets, poverty reduction will be easier for the government to manage. Although the N5000 stipend that the Muhammadu Buhari administration promised the unemployed is yet to become a reality, it could be a way of sustaining those that fall in the category so their basic needs can be met without having to rely heavily on the employed.