The level of unemployment in the country can be reduced drastically if the federal government implements functional policies with adequate monitoring, a clear support plan for its beneficiaries and job creation or entrepreneurship empowerment.
The Financial Derivatives Company Limited, which stated this in its latest economic bulletin, noted that such policies should be spread across all 36 states in order to bring about a stronger impact on the country.
When policies are well implemented and monitored they quicken the developmental process and alleviate poverty, the Lagos-based financial advisory company stated.
According to the firm, unemployment is unquestionably one of the major macroeconomic problems affecting Nigeria, especially the youths. This, it stated has continued its upward trend over the past five years.
Despite all the policies put in place to reduce unemployment, Nigeria still ranks among the top ten countries with the highest unemployment rate.
As of third quarter of 2018, the most recent data available, Nigeria’s unemployment stood at 23.1 per cent and had been projected to rise further in the coming years as labour force growth continues to outpace job growth.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the labour force increased by 19.17 per cent to 90.5 million in Q3 2018, from 75.94 million in Q3 2015, while the number of people employed grew by 1.67 per cent, from 68.4 million in Q3 2015, to 69.54 million in Q3 2018.
“An alarmingly high unemployment rate has major social, political and economic consequences on a country. It slows down economic growth, contributes to crime rates and has an adverse effect on both physical and mental health.
“Crimes such as robbing, kidnapping, and fraud increase when unemployment increases, because of the widening disparity between the rich and poor. This leads to animosity, social tensions and the need to fend for oneself and family.
“Unemployment brings about the inability to take care of oneself properly due to the lack of a steady income, poor nutrition and often leads to depression,” it explained.
According to the FDC, the Nigerian government has made attempts to curb unemployment.
They used various policies and schemes such as the National Directorate of Unemployment (NDE) established in 1986.
The NDE has a mandate to design and implement programs that reduce poverty, enhance wealth generation and promote attitudinal change.
As part of this mandate, it provided vocational training to youths. However, it did not have a job placement component nor did it provide access to start-up capital to encourage entrepreneurship.
Also, the National Accelerated Poverty Reduction program (NAPEP) was another attempt at addressing unemployment. Established in 2001, it focused on training youths for employment in the automobile industry. However, it ultimately achieved little as the majority of the funds went to administrative costs in offices spread over the country.
The most recent initiative is N -Power. Introduced in 2017, its goal is to achieve inclusion and productivity in the country. It provides a skills development platform for Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 35 that has benefited about 200,000 people since inception.
It is anticipated this number will grow significantly once the organisation emerges from its start-up years.
However, N-Power is ultimately undermined by the same problems the NDE faced. It only provides training. There are no plans to ensure that the youth actually find gainful employment, and N-Power does little to support job creation.
“As a result, even once N-Power is running optimally, it may simply generate an influx of skilled workers without available jobs. In order to solve the high unemployment rate in Nigeria, the government needs to improve some of the policies that are already in place.
“The Federal government should look to Delta and Osun State. Delta State established two programs namely: the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Program (2015) and the Skills, Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (2017).
“These programs provided skills training in vocations like baking, sewing, fashion design, fishing and more.
“However, the programs also provided access to the start-up capital needed to encourage self-employment and allocated fish ponds in various local government areas to support the beneficiaries.
“This has led to the employment of over 2,300 youths, which have in turn trained and employed thousands of other entrepreneurs,” it revealed.
Continuing, it stated that Osun State created the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O-YES). Similar to the NPower plan, the O-YES scheme has a two-year training program.
Meanwhile, the OYES scheme is adequately monitored and has an exit program to ensure trainees have jobs after they graduate from the scheme. The exit program is a strategy that includes multiple deployments: to public schools, agricultural initiatives, the state’s civil service, ICT opportunities, and in some cases, even sponsorship abroad for specialised training.
“The O-YES scheme is one of the most successful youth empowerment schemes in Nigeria with recommendations from the World Bank. As a result, Osun is the state with the lowest unemployment rate in the country,” it added.