Mary Mcleod Bethune once said: “We have powerful potentials in our youths, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends”.
There is no denial that Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with one of the largest populations of young people in the world, having about 33,652,424 members with a lot of innate potentials and resources. Unfortunately, they have been described paradoxically as a ‘demographic majority’ and a ‘resource minority’ in the country.
They’re often regarded as unproductive, lazy and useless to the economy, and this assertion has lingered for so long that the youth are beginning to believe they are unproductive, unreliable and straight up lazy fellows.
The advent of technological innovations and advancements in the 21st century has been blamed by several researchers, scholars, schools of thoughts, as the primary cause of the unproductivity and unemployability of an average Nigerian youth.
Lots of scholarly articles and journals have been published on how Nigerian youth are unemployable, unproductive and incapacitated in the country and people hardly criticize or take a stand against these works because they believe the points are valid and the assertion is true, but contrary to popular belief, this is very wrong!
In furtherance, a popular adage–you can’t put new wines in old bottle. The youth are the new wine of the society and they are always crop-fitted into the old bottles of the Nigerian Educational system and at the end of the day, they still take the blame for their unproductivity and ineptitude.
According to statistics from the British Council, since 2002, the number of Nigerians being educated in the UK increased by over 75% and that figure was generated in 2010. Thus, it can be expected that the percentage is higher given the continued dilapidation of the country’s education system.
Most of these young people running away from the country have become successful in their diverse fields abroad. So, who is to blame?
The most recent Census Bureau study reveals that African immigrants have the most success in the American higher education system Nigerians appear to be especially, successful when it comes to attaining advanced degrees. The data shows that 17% of all Nigerians in the country have a master’s degree, and 4% have a doctorate. To put that in perspective, the same data reveals that only 8%of native-born whites hold master’s degrees, and 1% have earned doctorates.
Why are our youth abroad doing so well? If Nigerian youth are truly unproductive, unemployable and lazy, how are they able to compete favourably with their counterparts abroad when they get there?
They’re perceived to be unemployable because the nation is deplorable! Let’s take a look at the number of graduates poured into the labour market every year, Over 500,000! All these people go into the labour market in search of jobs, and quite a good number of them graduated with fairly good grades.
What then is the problem? They blame it on lack of skills and talents, when they hardly made provisions for skill acquisitions in their educational system.
They don’t know because they were not taught!
The youth are agile, easily adapt to situations and are always ready to proffer solutions when need be. They have greater mental strength than their predecessors; they’re seen in most sectors of the economy using their technological, communication and marketing skills to rebuild the broken walls of our economy
The youths are the brains behind the technological progress in Nigeria. They are the cyber Lords; the political activists and campaign managers, the industrial labourers, the marketing managers, etcetera, of the nation yet they’re called unemployable!
They’re found in almost every sector; some of them don’t have a good training base and are subjected to learning these skills in a few months – what should have been incorporated in the school’s curriculum.
Many Nigerian youths are grounded in different skills acquired through apprenticeship, education, observation and teaching which does not take very long and they become professionals at it.
When harnessed, this population brings into life, goods that satisfy everyday needs although most times, they lack good manufacturing equipment for mass production.
It can be deduced that the problem of the so-called unemployability of Nigerian youths lies not with the youth, but the leadership of the country. Perhaps they don’t want tomorrow to have leaders.
Consequently, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said it all, saying: “the youths constitute Nigeria’s only hope for a real future, if we want a real future, we should never look down on our youth”.
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