Employment In Nigeria: “Missing Skills Mean Missed Opportunities For Nigerian Graduates” – Olamidun Majekodunmi

Mrs Olamidun Majekodunmi who is the Founder of Performing Arts School Nigeria and Country Ambassador for Nexford University wrote:

Like many Nigerians, my parents hoped for a better education for me and so I was carted off to the US at a young age where I attended public schools up until my bachelor’s degree. I happened to be a beneficiary of one of the more grounded education systems in the world, where student outcomes are closely tracked and these results define the pecking order of higher education institutions.  It is safe to say that as a product of this system, you move on to earn a sustaining wage and find career-advancing opportunities. No wonder there are nearly 12,000 Nigerian students studying in universities in the US and many thousands more clamouring at the mercy of student visas, international tuition rates, and cultural barriers. 

In Nigeria, graduate outcomes are hardly tracked. Families spend hard-earned money on education, and spend years of effort likely elongated due to strike actions etc. and yet our graduates come out with no jobs. 

Globally, young people are three times more likely than their parents to be out of work. Two underlying issues have been pinpointed- high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of people with critical job skills. I plan to address the later. For Nigeria, this is an especially hard-hitting realization. There are 34 million Nigerians who are unemployed or underemployed,  we have a spiking population and an even higher spiking youth population, yet our higher education practices remain irresponsive to this looming catastrophe. 

I was recently part of a team who led an empirical study of employers of over 15,000 Nigerians and the challenges they have with employing fresh Nigerian graduates. We gathered that;

“Nigerian graduates are not lazy but are unprepared for the workplace.”

Major themes surrounded the fact that graduates are not well equipped with the soft and hard skills required to operate in today’s dynamic work environments. Qualitatively, we gathered that:

  • Many new graduates lack critical thinking skills- they have been groomed to wait for instruction, not to take initiative. 
  • Graduates’ communication skills in a professional setting are subpar.
  • 65% of employers surveyed said self-confidence and interpersonal skills are often lacking in graduate recruits.
  • 80% of employers surveyed said data analytics, Microsoft Office Suite literacy, and general computer skills are still a major challenge for fresh graduates.

Employers are urging local universities to abandon the legacy approaches and educate students based on the skills ever-evolving workplaces truly seek.

With reinforced hands-on training, practical applications, and soft-skills training, we could groom our graduates for the highest bidding employees.”

The private sector is taking matters into our own hands. Fresh out of a $4M seed round, Nexford University (NXU) is an American, distance learning university, prepared to enter the Nigerian market in the first half of 2019. Nexford is gearing up to provide accredited, affordable, and personalized education to students in Nigeria and in other parts of the world.

Critically informed by employer needs in order to create a direct-to-employer pipeline, Nexford is designing a competency-based, intuitive learning system that caters to each individual learner. Solutions like Nexford are welcomed and I look forward to tracking success stories. 

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