NIGERIAN GRADUATES AND THE CHALLENGES OF UNEMPLOYMENT

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Education remains the most important tool for behavioural reform and economic emancipation. It is not only a leveler in the society, it is the only legacy any parent or country can bequeath their children and citizens. The importance of education can never be overstretched. It covers everything. In fact, it is everything. Both the rich and the poor pursue knowledge. The world would have been nothing without knowledge. Human beings would have been nothing without education.

Unfortunately, education is being bastardised in many African countries particular in Nigeria where I have a direct experience. It is important to state that going to school is not limited to securing jobs (either white, grey, green or blue collar) after graduation. It is unforgivable to reduce years of rigorous educational development to securing job somewhere.

Of a truth, the type of society we are have made us to believe that automatic employment from government or private sector should follow graduation. This is a half-truth. In short, it is a quarter truth today. This was marketable when there was a dire need of white-collar staff at the early years of independence and when the population of graduates was growing at arithmetic progression. In today’s world, it is a complete waste of academic years to limit graduation from universities and other tertiary institutions to securing paid jobs.

The mentality of running after good grades in school for the purpose of securing jobs after graduation is unfortunate. Pursuing knowledge is the ultimate. With a good knowledge of your field of study and a layman knowledge of fields outside your field of study, the sky will be the beginning of one’s greatness. With these, one will create, innovate and solve societal problems through one’s space of influence. In return, one will smile to the bank.

The first and major thing education should do in a person is behavioural reform. Everyone should be able to see and say that one is educated through one’s behaviour. One’s actions, decisions making process and choices should reflect behavioural reform.

Secondly, as an educated fellow, securing a government or private job is a plus. If this does not come or has not come, it does not mean that your education is a waste. Rather, look deep into your wealth of knowledge and figure out what you can do. Humanity needs your ingenuity. Skills and skill acquisition are and have always been key. Any skill or trade one has, your education should boost your chance of success in it.

Everything in today’s world is packaging. Also, your personality comes into play. There is no skill that is not fruitful. Shoemaking, hairstyling, tailoring, farming, catering, food and beverages among others are examples of viable skills.

Packaging water in nylon (ice water) used to be the order of the day. Later on, sachet and table water took over. All is packaging. What we are taking still remains water packaged in different forms. This is a huge source of income which is a product of innovation that is made possible by education. Other examples of these are numerous out there.

Shoemaking for instance is a cool business. Everyone wears shoes. Someone, somewhere makes shoes for presidents, governors, lawmakers, ministers, commissioners and other well to do people. Dear brothers and sisters, these persons are shoemakers just like the common ones in your neighborhood. The difference is just that they package their businesses which is the edge education will give you over others who are in the same line of business with you.

Tailoring and fashion design is another skill. Just like shoemaking, everyone wears clothes. Both readymade clothes and others are made by tailors. The rich and the poor wear clothes. The person that sews these clothes is a tailor. Whether he/she sews for the president or the lawmakers, he/she remains a tailor. How you package your business will determine the type of people you attract to it. This is the edge education will give you over others. Because with your knowledge, you will be able to think and proffer solutions to what others see to be difficult.

This cuts across every skill and trade one put forward to do. Even when one is in a paid job, it does not guarantee success. In today’s world, one cannot succeed with just one source of income. Everyone must learn at least, a skill or set up a trade. This will grow and yield better. This, one can leave behind for their children. Every paid job has a retirement date while one’s established skill or trade continues after one’s exit.

Thus, it is important we change our mindset about securing job. If government or paid job comes, good, if it does not or has not come, nothing spoil. Endeavour to learn at least a skill or trade. It is never late to learn. One can learn after graduation irrespective of the years after graduation.

Qudus Adewale Lawal,

alaniadewale@yahoo.com