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Coping with unemployment in 21st century

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DAVID, a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from one of the notable universities in the country is yet to get a job since he left school in 2010. Helen, a young promising lady was laid off from her banking job as result of financial distress leading to liquidation of the bank. In an ongoing recruitment process, Ebuka, Shola and Hassan were screened out because they were below the age lacked the professional experiences needed for the job. Effiong was recently sighted, sweating profusely while walking down the street with his files in search of job. Michaeal, a 400 level student started counting months to bag his first degree certificate. According to him, he is very optimistic about the future- to work in a big company as an accountant. Nevertheless, these are challenges and conditions encountered by most of the unemployed people.

    Unemployment can be a signal of the problem encountered when the economy of a nation is in low-ebb.  Most commercial industries due to lack of finances reduce the number of their personnel in order to manage the available resources and be able to pay them at end of the month. This can be drawn to when a worker, after many years got sacked from his work place, persons who have graduated for many years ago or weeks and still in a search for job, or anybody who is available and competent for a job but haven’t been able to secure one.

Also when the population of workforce in a country outweighs the number of space of jobs to be given, the jobs available will be few. Many students graduate from school and loom every nook and cranny of the streets in search of job to earn a living and in return, take care of their parents and wards who trained them in school. Most of them set their minds only to get a certain job with their qualification, but to their chagrin and dismay, these jobs are like hot cakes because a lot of their other fellow job seekers are also in quest for the limited slots that the employers might tend to recruit.

   However, a writer once said that when employment qualification or competence is pegged in school grade, then the society is training people who are unfit in recent time. Some of the recruiting companies don’t look out for only the certificate acquired by an individual, while some do. Employers that don’t give much attention to certificates, scrutinise their job applicants to know if they are well experienced and fit for particular position through series of practical tests and evaluation and to a great extent, a lot of them, especially fresh graduates are not employed.

 What could be the reason of not measuring up to be employed? Is it that they are inexperienced or that the organisations have high standards in x-raying who to employ and who to disqualify? Even with the certificates and experiences, some are denied being employed because of upper hand; a situation where “who is who” in the society and well connected people offer jobs to their own people.

 It is saddening in a society where the rate of unemployment is high and myriads of undergraduates are scrabbling for few jobs, people especially the unemployed engage in various means of earning a living. Some discover those routes through legitimate means while others sort it through dubious means and are exposed to certain dangers. They once dreamt of having a better life after school but unfortunately, not all reached that goal of actualising their dreams despite the certificate.

    At this period of their lives, most of them live on survival mode; that is feeding from hand to mouth, while some are still under the financial care of their parents and guardians, whereas they ought to be independently taking care of themselves as adults and families. It was the dream of their parents and guardians for their wards to attain certain educational, levels get good jobs and take care of them at old age. When these purpose and dreams seem unrealistic, all hopes look shattered. Should one stay idle or unproductive at this circumstance while waiting for job opportunities?

     When youths are faced with unemployment, they resort to engaging in obnoxious acts which can lead to self destruction and tarnishing the reputation of the country. Nigeria today is confronted with serious problem of unemployment and in tackling it, there is need for the country to diversify her economy, pay more attention to agricultural and skill acquisition centers, encourage domestic productions, and discourage high birth rate as some school of thought said. Finding a niche or passing through the phase of unemployment can be so frustrating and challenging for some Nigerian youths. It is demoralizing for young people to discover that there are no jobs waiting for them and chances of getting work after school is limited.     

 A lecturer from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Mrs. Chijioke Onwuzuligbo  enumerated various problems resulting from  unemployment like restiveness, violence and social vices like  kidnapping, cultism, blackmailing, stealing; defrauding people of their hard earned money (physical and cyber), massive migration index of people living in rural to urban areas in search of jobs and better life, where they begin to convert places to shanties and slums, a very poor living condition as result of the migration, leading to more increase in poverty level because the migrants are easily given to vices, negative attitudes and behaviours which by and large, affect everyone in the country directly or indirectly.

 She also noted that unemployment affects the economy of a nation, adding that if a nation has less people that are employed either in public or private sector, the nation has less people paying their taxes whether it is deducted at source or paid voluntarily by the employer. The fewer the employed, the lesser amount of tax the government has, the government will have reduced revenue generated from tax payers and the available revenue are sometimes used to pull people out from those negative behaviours .

Mrs. Onwuzuligbo  also stressed on the need  for the unemployed  to be useful in the society by looking beyond aforementioned challenges and tap into the opportunity of finding needs and services in their environment and turning them into sources of income rather than staying idle waiting for government or white collar jobs.

  As the saying goes, “don’t wait for an opportunity to knock at your door but rather prepare for an opportunity before it comes knocking”. In a situation where one is unable to a find a job, how does one cope in such predicament with hope of getting one someday? According to the founder of Patriotic Alliance for National Development (PAND), a youth led and development focused non-governmental organization, Moshood Mohammed, in the life of every man, there is what is called ‘period of waiting’- a time when you want something but don’t have it and you have to wait in expectation that of course at a time, you’d get what you want.

He admonished unemployed people not to sleep and waste away their time while they wait for jobs but rather, utilise their time and energy in something meaningful like engaging in activities and programmes that will sharpen their skills and make them ready for the job or opportunity that they are waiting for. “We are in a knowledge driven economy. No one should rest until he or she has what they are looking for. Even after having it, there is no rest because many others want or like what you have and would like to have it for themselves. So, while the youths wait, learn new skills, horn the ones you have, get certification for that skill, take another course or degree, volunteer to work on social causes, go for internship and be ready to work for free. Yes. I have done it too. Many will not give you opportunity except they know you can deliver. You can as well start a business that is in line with your interest. Don’t just sit and do nothing and complain about the government. Your life is your personal business. Don’t fail. Most importantly, network rightly,” he said.

      Mr. Moshood while proffering solution unemployment stressed the need to first strengthen school curriculum to reflect the new thinking globally and also adopt problem solving methods in teaching across Nigeria, from primary to tertiary level. Government should pump money into education, support innovations and take to prudence in its spending and activities. According to him, the level of unemployment exist because most graduates lack practical knowledge of what they studied to succeed on the field. “Let’s make everything practical and hands on, you will be surprised at the result we’d get,” he opined.

      A young entrepreneur and graduate from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka,  Favour Jack, while sharing her experience and opinion advised undergraduates who hope to get jobs after school to look for a skill and learn during weekend which will not distract their studies. “I started my business since my 300 level around 2018 and since there is no job in the country, it has helped me a lot. No skill in the country is useless. Just check what you love doing and learn it well. Whenever I cook, I feel happy. Now, I benefit financially from it. If I work weekly in a month, I earn up to #80,000” she said.

     An author and Chief Executive Officer of Geoserve Renaissance Academy Awka, Mr Chinemerem Oguegbe said that the causes of high rate of unemployment in Nigeria are played by both the government and people looking for job, as the unemployed focus mostly on looking for white collar jobs than looking for skills to monetise, be self reliant and employers of labour and also as a result of government inability to provide critical infrastructures and basic amenities which according to him has led some many foreign companies and investors to pull out from doing business in  Nigeria, “the lack of these two parties playing their roles contributed to lack of unemployment. If there is constant electricity, foreign investors and companies will want to do business in Nigeria because electricity gives them the manpower and the push to also get the required manpower that will work. Without electricity, you will find out that they spend much in buying diesels and fuel. Most times, most of these companies leave the shores of Nigeria to nearby African countries to situate their businesses, thereby creating job opportunities in those countries and also making the Nigeria staff jobless. Government should use natural resources other than oil to generate revenue and employment”

   He went further to posit that to overcome and survive unemployment in 21st century that young people should remember the philosophy of self realization, check their passions, skills that have the tendency to give them money, invest their energy, learn them and turn them as avenues to make money while providing solutions to their immediate environment. “One needs to acquire an income generating skill that will yield money and people will be willing to pay in exchange of the skill, no matter the amount. One can decide to learn how to do some very menial things that we overlook and feel too big to do, especially as graduates. One can learn to be a good hair dresser, a unique way of rendering a particular service or selling a particular product to a set of people, look around and inwards to discover skills that will be profitable to solve problems.

   However, Mr. Oguegbe explained that no business can thrive if there is no security and recommended that government and relevant stakeholders in their efforts towards reducing unemployment in the country should do more in the area of ensuring adequate security of life and property for Nigerians and business environment, to encourage investors and to enable people have confidence to invest their money in businesses in Nigeria, thereby creating employment for the teaming youths.

More so, they should look more in bringing investors or investing in solid minerals in various states (aside oil), address the issue of steady power supply, which according to him, saves cost for manufacturing  companies and build vocational or skill acquisition centers to learn skills.“Personally, I think that it is better if the mandatory one year National Youth Service (NYSC) should be done in vocational centres, where government will make it compulsory that during the period of NYSC, youths will learn skills and at the end of the service year, the person will be giving what is called a ‘seed fund” to start a business from the skill acquired, so that in couple of years the country will raise teaming entrepreneurs that will be automatically be employers of labour instead of job seekers in the country and the level of people searching for jobs will reduce,” he said.

   In an interview, the principal, Skill Acquisition Center, Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Children Affairs, Amaoyibo . L. Ogunwa cautioned youths to instead of staying idle at home doing nothing, to engage in meaningful things than in frivolities that will destroy and not develop their lives. He also advised those who are learning skills to be serious and master them well. “Learning skills these days is very important, it helps in home, private life and also to earn money to survive. Acquiring certificate is good but getting a job these days is not easy.

The best thing to do is to learn a skill or trade. Learn it very well, not jumping in and jumping out of it without learning it well and when they start, they will not continue because of the pressure and complexity of work. They need to learn the skill very well, so that when they get started, they will render services well to the society, because that is one major problem we have now. Some after learning skills, when they start, they wouldn’t be able to do good jobs for their customers; tomorrow they will go away and not come back to patronize you, but if you do it perfectly, people will rush; there will be cue and they will patiently wait for their turn because they know that you are good with what you do. 

   In 21st century, the mindset of having the sole thinking of acquiring only certificates to get a job should be jettisoned. Now is the era of what you can do with all the knowledge gotten from both formal and informal education. The society wants to know how you can utilise that knowledge in becoming a better person in the midst of unemployment. It is now no longer only a pursuit for a certificate to earn a living and contribute to the society but also having a third eye or plan B or a backup plan when certificates fail by learning skills and engaging in any lucrative business or trade as standard of living increases day by day with nothing to meet up with the margin, rather than staying idle. Some people sort out their financial challenges from venturing into some sources of income to cover expenses and meet up with their various fundamental needs. That is why there is a major increase in the number of entrepreneurs and business outfits

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