Youth unemployment is a major development challenge in the African continent. In Nigeria, the problem of unemployment and poverty spurred the Nigerian government into developing a policy framework for youth entrepreneurship education. This saw the birth of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in 1986, and the Work For Yourself Programme (WFYP) in 1987. Both programmes were joint programmes of training and financial support to entrepreneurs.
The NDE was however more extensive and included three core programmes namely the Youth Employment and Vocational Skills Development Programme; the Agricultural Programmes, and the Small Scale Industries and Graduate Employment Scheme. These programmes made significant impacts on Nigeria’s economy and national development as they were able to empower young graduates in the task of job and wealth creation through entrepreneurial thinking. However, the youths were also confronted with the problem of non-possession of sound knowledge of entrepreneurship.
In an effort to fill this gap the NDE introduced several programmes such as Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) which has offered functional education for the youth to enable them to be self-employed and self-reliant. Other efforts by the Nigerian government include the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy. (NEEDS), Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN), Subsidy reinvestment Programme (SureP), NPower and Youth Entrepreneurship Support Programme.
These efforts notwithstanding, the problem of graduate unemployment continued to soar high and constituted a major challenge to the Nigerian nation with 7.53 million unemployed youth in 2017. This is largely due to the curricula of the universities and other tertiary schools with emphasis on training for white-collar jobs. The tertiary education in Nigeria has failed to meet the employment requirements of its teeming graduates. The monumental increase occurred despite the fact that all tiers of governments as well as the organized private sectors, (OPD), generated additional 1.2 million jobs, which thus put the estimated labour population at 85.1 per cent for the same period.
There is an urgent need for a proactive employment drive in the country through entrepreneurship education, massive public infrastructural development such as railways, roads construction, reinvention of public schools and hospitals which could enhance national development in Nigeria. Entrepreneurship education will provide the young graduates adequate training that will enable them to be creative and innovative in identifying great business opportunities. It will also offer functional education to the youths to enable them to be well empowered and self-reliant people in their own right and serve as catalyst for economic growth and development.
Furthermore, it will create job and employment opportunities for its citizenry and reduce the rural-urban migration. Finally, entrepreneurship education will result to balanced regional development and increase in GDP and per capita income.
Some of the challenges of entrepreneurship education in Nigeria include inadequate course curriculum on entrepreneurial education, poor societal attitude to technical and vocational education development and inadequate trainers or little knowledge of entrepreneurship by the universities lecturers. Also, not all education institutions of learning carry out entrepreneurship education and there is low spirit of competition among entrepreneurs.
Other challenges are inadequate budgetary allocation for education by the government, inadequate facilities and equipment for teaching, inadequate fund for the program by the Universities administrators and poor enterprising culture, amongst others. For Nigeria educational institutions to be an instrument for national development and transformation, it is suggested that lecturers/instructors should be trained regularly on entrepreneurship education within and outside the country, while the federal government should increase the budgetary allocation as well as provide fund to graduating students to start their own businesses.
Also, the university management should contact some non-government organizations or banks to give soft loans/grants to entrepreneurship educators to establish their own business, while students should be provided with adequate information about new businesses. The universities should regularly organize workshops for the students and invite successful business men and women to give talk on how to start and run a business successfully. In addition, centre for entrepreneurship education should be established in every tertiary institution while undergraduate students should be mandated to go for internship for a at least a period of 3 months. Furthermore, the institutions should ensure provision of appropriate instruction materials and local infrastructure and support services relevant to Nigeria situation.
– Commodore Beckley wrote from Abuja
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