Students go to university campuses with the hope of getting a degree certificate that will increase their chances of having a secure future through high-paying jobs. This is, however, a far cry from the reality of the average Nigerian graduate. Each year, thousands of graduates are released into the streets of Nigeria, looking for jobs in already congested spaces. The Labour Market seeks a different entity from what the universities build. Companies are looking for energetic, fast-paced thinkers who can integrate easily into their ecosystem. The most highly sought-after abilities today, that will also stand help job seekers stand out, lean more towards personal development than academic knowledge.
In 2014, a British Council study estimated Nigeria’s graduate unemployment rate to be at 23.1%. In Kenya, it takes an average of five years for a graduate to find a job. Yet business leaders frequently say there are jobs – just a lack of skilled talent to do them. How can this be?
There are two commonly cited explanations. The first is that financial, human capital and infrastructural constraints have a negative impact on the range and quality of skills students graduate with. The second is the disconnect between what universities teach and the skills needed in the market.
More importantly, another more fundamental explanation has to do with how students are educated, irrespective of what they study or the resource constraints they face. How students learn matters to employers because it shapes how they think and what they do at work.
These days, Universities are the planning stage for a society’s aspirations. African universities must begin to produce employable leaders who will meet the challenges that are hindering the continent’s progress economically and technologically.