This is the first quarter of 2016 and the statistics are rolling in for 2015. It has become obvious that unemployment is still a big topic in Nigeria and there's no overnight miracle in plane sight. According to the Unemployment/Under-employment Watch Q1 2015 publication of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 5,533,559 individuals are unemployed and 12,208,823 are underemployed. Though there are arguments as regards the authenticity of the publication by NBS, there is no doubt that the unemployment rate in Nigeria still needs to be worked on and I think organisations can help with it.
The outcry from organisations has always been that most graduates from Nigerian institutions aren’t employable. Some organisations engage undergraduates and start the grooming for workplace early by selecting bright students based on academic achievements and other metrics based on the organisation’s culture. Google, Unilever, KPMG and a lot of others have internship programmes that are targeted at recruiting students that may later be employed after graduation. While this is a good strategy, it limits coverage as only a few of the lot in higher institutions are able to partake in the internship programs.
Reducing unemployment rate in Nigeria will require joint collaboration between both the government and private companies. I will like to imagine a situation where companies can come together to help institutions set up a more practical experience for undergraduates. The goal is to help leverage the knowledge and skill being acquired in more practical ways. You might say “but there’s SIWES”. That happens only once in the entire study life of the undergraduate. To have well equipped graduates might mean mandating SIWES to be every session of the undergraduate study, and encouraging this culture will enable a more practical learning experience for the undergraduates.
This initiative might require organisations coming together to set up a structure that will help achieve more practical-based learning opportunities for undergraduates and having presence in schools to help develop programmes that will do same. This doesn’t rule out the entrepreneurial drive and mindset to establishing home-based solutions, it will actually help to reduce the number of startups that shut down after some years due to lack of experience and mentorship that can be gained even before leaving the university.
A case scenario might be useful here, so picture a company like Konga having a partnership with the Mass Communication department of University of Lagos. The partnership involves periodic engagement of students at several levels within the Customer Relation department at Konga and students actually gain practical/live experience and feedback on customer engagement and relationship management alongside other things
The Computer Science department can definitely undergo the same process, even more engaging as the company is a tech company; computer science students will have more things to learn.
Disrupting how we learn might be the fastest and maybe cost effective way to reduce unemployment in Nigeria and private organisations can actually make it happen if more collaborations are forged with Higher Institutions of learning in the country. If you feel otherwise kindly let us know in the comment section below.