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Young, Unemployed...and Nigerian - Career Talk

Posted on Tue 25th Oct, 2011 - --- (10 comments)

Youth unemployment is a major issue in many countries in the world, but could over-parenting be in part to blame? Funmi Wale-Adegbite, who is based in Lagos and has more than 10 years experience in the recruitment industry, tell the BBC World Service why she believes this is the case in Nigeria. In Nigeria we have a very high unemployment rate for young people between the age of 15-24 years - I think we are looking at over 30%.

Over-parenting is in my opinion the greatest evil handicapping Nigerian youth. It is at the root of our national malaise. Parents, you are practically loving your child to death. Whether you are poor or rich in Nigeria, the culture expects you to nurture your child continuously. The way our culture is, you look at your child as a child forever, and you almost treat them child as a child forever.

Parents sustain their children, they pay them pocket money - sometimes into their 30s. So you can have a 30-something-year-old man and the parents refers to him as a “child”. And that person, that adult, behaves like a child, because he gets pocket money, and he gets a driver to take him round.

There is no pressure on that “child” to get out and do something - they are comfortable. So a high-proportion of unemployment is due to parents not cutting the cord, and not leaving that young man or that young woman to make something of themselves. In the UK, an 18 year old is almost a young adult, but in Nigeria that person is a child.

Pressure to Earn

Most people in Nigeria finish university late; it is not unusual to have a 27 year old just finishing university, and it is not unusual to have somebody aged 27 who has never worked before - whether they are from a rich or a poor background. Many have no work experience whatsoever. It is with entry level graduates that the majority of the problem lies; they are not really focused.

Are young people in Nigeria asking for too much? Most parents have expectations and imagine their child working for a known name, a known brand - for example a bank, a telecommunications company, an oil and gas company, or a multinational organisation. And they want them to earn what they term a “decent salary”.

In Nigeria, there is so much pressure to earn now, that people are not prepared to sacrifice their time to learn under somebody - everybody wants to earn big money. I don’t want to give the wrong impression - it is not everybody - but from my experience, it is around 70% of the graduates I speak to.

So if another company comes along and can offer them the kind of experience that they need right now, but pays them half or maybe a third of what a large organisation would pay, they frown on it. They would rather be a cleaner in a large multinational organisation than a graduate trainee in an unknown company.

Students ‘lost’

When my parents were 18, there were fewer opportunities for them to make a success of their lives than there are now. They were living in rural areas, there were no telephones, no internet, so they really had to really strive, and they had no parents to back them up. My father was one of 40 children, so he was not in line for any pocket money.

The youth of today are definitely not as determined to succeed because they have somebody who always catches them when they are just about to fall. Sometimes people think that once you go to university, you have arrived. And the universities do not really prepare the graduates. The whole reason for a university to offer a course is because there is an industry that needs it.

But there is a disconnect in a lot of Nigerian universities; the universities are not really preparing students for work, they are just giving degrees, and it does not matter whether they are suitable for a company or not. When I was at university in the UK, we had a careers office. It was very clear to us that by your second year you should be getting some work experience in line with what you hope to be doing at the end of your course.

But in Nigeria it is not like that - most universities do not have a careers office, and they do not offer any careers advice. So students come out of university and are totally lost.

‘Nothing comes easy’

University education has been so celebrated in Nigeria that people do not really stop to think whether there are alternatives. Is university where that child should go, or is there vocational training that could be done?’ Education is seen as a status symbol, so everyone wants to go to university. There are so many industries in Nigeria that are suffering. Teaching for instance - many people do not want their children to be teachers. So you have a big shortage in that area.

I had a young lady come to me and I did a personality assessment for her, which said she would be very good working with children and being a teacher in a pre-school or nursery school. But she told me: “Please don’t tell my parents because they want me to work in a bank.” It is a cultural thing and it is really hard to break. My eldest child is 11, and the way I am raising him and the other younger two, is to tell them: “You need to work hard; nothing comes easy.”
Courtesy: BBC World Service


Comments (10)

No. 1
Posted on Tue 25th Oct, 2011 12:26:32 GMT by Roland Omohohwo

This is obviously & tuly good talk !
No. 2
Posted on Tue 25th Oct, 2011 12:40:48 GMT by Roland Omohohwo

Obvious and TRUE talk !
No. 3
Posted on Wed 26th Oct, 2011 13:34:17 GMT by Biggy

This is nonsense. U have ten years of xperience bcos somebody connected u but u will not tell us na. Is it after studying bus admin and they tell me to go and teach i will get experience instead of serving with an organisation to practice what i did in nysc. All of u are the cause of our failure in nigeria.
No. 4
Posted on Thu 27th Oct, 2011 06:34:52 GMT by Ashafa abubakar

U have stated the problem categorically but what is the way out.
No. 5
Posted on Thu 27th Oct, 2011 08:41:15 GMT by mama

This article is something more people need to read . i grew up in a civil service home without connections of any sort infact my dad would tell us he could not embarrass himself bribing or begging anybody. for my parents any position of less than first five was failure. I worked teaching in nursery school and as a lesson teacher during holidays and ASSU strikes when it came to time to work and graduate i have had to fight by merit and networking to get any job i need but most young people are not ready to work at all except at good jobs and they are not ready to serve neither are they grateful. They are also not ready to empower or improve themselves with any form of skills they would rather watch TV , chat and go for parties. All they believe in is connection. I am a pharmacist but after graduation i had to work at a hotel call center selling holiday packages and earning N12,000 per month. But i thank God today i am much better and the hard work has paid off.
No. 6
Posted on Thu 27th Oct, 2011 08:47:01 GMT by mama

Ashafa your question is a good one . You need to get other skills and empower yourself think outside the box. Look for people who are succeeding in the profession you want to be in and get close to them so you can get the information you need. And above all prayer is key it will open your mind and bring opportunities your way.

Biggy i hope you change your mind set you can make it without connections. The fact is someone can give you a job but he cannot keep you in the job.
No. 7
Posted on Thu 03rd Nov, 2011 09:07:21 GMT by CLARA MASIRA

Everyone should read this.with or withouth a job.Its high time we all woke up to smell the coffee.Everyone wants a white collar job which is not there.worse till the minds are rigid and not yet ready to embrace change.People its high time we change our mindset and attitude towards work.Truth is there is a lot of work out there only that most of is are not willing to start down.Our universities will ensure that all the degrees we want we will get but never do thy empower us on how to get a job leave a lone keep it.
No. 8
Posted on Wed 09th Nov, 2011 12:48:44 GMT by ajibade adedapo olaoluwa

get ur self develop in personal skill dont rely on ur certificate alone,stop wasting ur time...please let us learn from the china pple they believe in thier personal skill not only theory and see where they are today.
No. 9
Posted on Sat 22nd Feb, 2014 10:32:57 GMT by Dan Ofem

To rely on certificate alone when the job has not yet come is a risk to me and my understanding atleast after acquiring a certificate while waiting for a collar job you should look for something to do that atleast will be able to keep you busy cos indleness is a devil's institution.,and stop saying government this government that do something to help ur self and stop pressurizing government for dis and dat so let's think of what to do for the country and not what the country will do for you all my 9ja people
No. 10
Posted on Sat 30th Jan, 2016 01:15:49 GMT by mr frank

The Federal Ministry of Education, hereby invites interested and qualified Nigerians too participate in the 2016/2017 Nomination Interview for Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) Scholarship Award for Undergraduates and Postgraduates.

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