Early last year, a number of employers in Nigeria including banks and telecommunication companies began to retrench workers. The Nigerian government showed its awareness of the industry-wide retrenchment exercise by reacting in an unconventional way, demanding that the banks refrain from sacking workers or risk a withdrawal of their licenses.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics has revealed just how bad the retrenchments in Nigeria over a one-year period covering October 2015 to September 2016 actually were.
According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, over 3.67 million Nigerians were forced into the unemployment market. The unemployment report obtained by a Punch correspondent showed that the number of unemployed Nigerians rose from 7.51 million in the beginning of the October 2015 to 11.19 million at the end of September 2016.
Of the 3.67 million unemployed Nigerians, a breakdown showed that about 522,000 people became jobless within the fourth quarter of 2015; while 1.44 million people joined the labor force in the first quarter of 2016.
The NBS report added that the number of those employed rose from 55.21 million in the beginning of the fourth quarter to 69.47 million as of the end of September, and the labor force population rose from 75.94 million to 80.66 million.
The report said;
“Given that the nature of rural jobs is largely menial and unskilled, such as in agriculture, unemployment is more of a concern in urban areas where more skilled labour is required.”
“The unemployment rate in the urban areas was 18.3 per cent compared to 11.8 per cent in the rural areas, as the preference is more for formal white-collar jobs, which are located mostly in urban centres,”
The President, Institute of Productivity and Business Innovation Management, Mr. Remi Dairo, commented on the unemployment rate in the country, saying;
“The huge number of unemployment is a reflection of the current economic realities as only a few businesses are growing and employing while many others are shedding jobs.
The lack of productive skills in both the private and public sector is one of the major reasons for the country’s underdevelopment and there is a need for a comprehensive education policy that would help to address the skill gaps in the country.
In order to close the existing gaps in skills between the extant programmes of educational institutions and the requirements in the industry, the government needs to restructure the educational system to meet the present and future needs of the country.”
All the thoughts shared by Mr. Dairo are not new, the call for a restructure of Nigeria’s educational system especially has been incessant over the years but still, nothing much has been done on that note by the Nigerian government.
One thing the government is doing that may help reduce the high rate of unemployed Nigerians is trying to better the ease of doing business in the country. With that, local industries and even foreign businesses could have a better chance surviving in the country, creating more jobs for people.