Unemployment is the state of being without a paid job. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), unemployment occurs when people are without work and actively seeking for job.
Unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force.
The unemployment rate in Nigeria is high compared to other countries in the West and Central Africa sub-region. For instance, the country’s unemployment rate according to the National Bureau of Statistics, increased to 9.9 percent in the last quarter of 2015 from 8.2 percent in the third quarter. It averaged 11.45 percent from 2006 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 23.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and a record low of 5.30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006. Many Nigerians however believe the rate is much higher than the official figures released by NBS. Unofficial sources indicate that more than half of Nigerians of working age are either unemployed or underemployed.
Underemployment refers to workers that are highly skilled but working in low paying jobs, workers that are highly skilled but work in low skill jobs and part-time workers that would prefer to be full-time.
Several factors have been identified by experts as causes of the high unemployment rate in the country. These include lack of regular electric power supply leading to the collapse of many businesses and manufacturing concerns; poor quality of education which has led to the churning out of unemployable graduates by Nigeria’s tertiary institutions; lack of marketable skills; willful neglect of the agricultural sector which is the highest employer of labour in the country; high level corruption and nepotism. It is worrisome that of about 1.8 million Nigerians who graduate every year, only about 35% are able to secure gainful employment.
One sure way of making mass unemployment a thing of the past is industrialization, but industries cannot thrive in the face of epileptic power supply and poor infrastructures. Many Nigerians are disconcerted that in 21st century, the supply of regular electricity remains a mirage in their country. Many Nigerians will become self-employed when there is regular electricity supply to power their businesses. Artisans, barbers, hairdressers, fashion designers and many other cottage industries will spring up and contribute to employment generation in the country.
Industries will also not thrive in the face of consistent policy summersault. Inconsistent policies create uncertainties, which entrepreneurs and investors loathe.
According to Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Small and Medium Enterprises manufacture more than 90 per cent of the products used in Nigeria. This shows that they play vital role in the economy. The Government should reduce the huge amount of charge on SMEs so that they can stay afloat and expand their operations.
The agricultural sector, which is the highest employer of labour in the country, needs to be mechanized and enhanced for optimal output. Provision of accessible roads and effective transport system; loans to farmers and the provision of grants and amenities will substantially encourage Nigerians to take to farming.
Nigeria’s maritime industry also has the potential of making significant contributions to reduction of unemployment in the country. Deepening of port reforms, effective implementation of the Cabotage Act, development of inland water transportation and strengthening indigenous participation in the carriage of the country’s inbound and outbound cargoes will open avenues for the employment of a sizeable number of Nigerians in the sector.
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