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RELEVANCE OF NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE CORPS SKILL ACQUISITION PROGRAMME AND UNEMPLOYMENT REDUCTION
This study investigated relevance of national youth service corps skill acquisition programme and unemployment reduction in Ifako Ijaiye Local Government Area of Lagos State. The study adopted descriptive survey design. A self-designed validated questionnaire was used for data collection. Three research questions and three hypotheses guided the study. Eighty graduates randomly selected under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme in Ifako Ijaiye Local Government Area of Lagos State participated in the study. The statistical tool used in the study was the Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient and all hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. Findings showed that there was a significant relationship between skill acquisition training and reduction of unemployment, there was a significant relationship between skill being thought and the needs of various organisations and there was a significant relationship between government funding and the achievement of the set objectives of the scheme. Based on these findings, some recommendations made in this study include: the government should ensure that there is proper implementation of the skill acquisition programme. The study found out that the major problem with skill acquisition training is policy implementation and not formulation. Also, The government should make a policy integrating entrepreneurship skill acquisition to enhance self-employment, in the curricula from secondary to tertiary levels to give students an opportunity to combine and coordinate all the elements of business management and to also inculcate in them entrepreneurial mind-set as well as motivate the students to setup their business ventures on graduation. The study also recommended that government should have the political will to work hand in hand with the universities by providing good infrastructure, resources and adequate funding because these facilities have a way of improving the skill and knowledge of the graduates.
Background to the Study
Unemployment is a major treat that is facing graduates of tertiary institutions in Nigeria due to the economic downturn and recessions experienced in countries around the world. In Nigeria, the reported youth unemployment rate has grown from 41percent in 2009 to over 50 percent in 2012-2013 and is growing at a rate of 16 percent per annum (Salami, 2013). Though data sources vary greatly depending on the technically out of work population, Nigeria’s large population size is a significant multiplier and results in between 5 to 20 million unemployed youths in Nigeria today.
Unemployment in Nigeria, as in other developing countries of the world, has been one of the most menacing social and economic problems Nigeria has to contend with. It is absolutely impossible to find a family in Nigeria which nobody is either unemployed or threatened by unemployment. The effect of unemployment on social and political stability cannot be wished away. Unemployment is partly responsible for social problems such as armed robbery, prostitution, destitution, kidnapping for ransom, bunkering and other social vices. Lemo (2013) asserts that entrepreneurship remains the viable option to create jobs, reduce unemployment, poverty and empower youths to develop their businesses, pursue their dreams and contribute to overall productive capacity and national economic growth and development.
Graduates of tertiary institutions in Nigeria after their compulsory National Youth Service cannot boast that they will be employed after their service year. Only a few of them could be lucky to secure paid employment. Therefore, being a graduate of higher institution of learning or possessing professional qualifications in disciplines such as law, medicine, accounting, engineering and so on is no guarantee of getting the desired employment due to the economic problem the country is facing.
Skill acquisition in terms of entrepreneurship education have been suggested to enable the country tackle the endemic problem of unemployment and poverty among the teeming youths and graduates in Nigeria so as to enable them to be job creators as well as wealth creators (Midea, 2004, Izedonmi, 2009, Unachukwu, 2009).Entrepreneurship skills acquisition can be obtained through various avenues such as: attending entrepreneurial training classes, development programmes, seminars, workshops and so on.
Entrepreneurship development in Nigeria has been ongoing for many years. Several government agencies and institutions have been engaged in different aspects of entrepreneurship development though with varied successes. Entrepreneurship Development Center (EDC), Center of Management Development (CMD), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), former Nigeria Industrial Development Bank (NIDB), Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry (NBCI), Nigerian University Commission (NUC), National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (NOAS), Small and Medium Enterprise Development Association of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme (SMEEIS) and national Youth Service Corps (NYSC) among others have programmes for skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development in Nigeria.
Nigerian government and policy makers are increasingly finding it difficult to deal successfully with graduate unemployment. The high rate of unemployment can be blamed on the lack of adequate provision for job creation in the development plans, the ever expanding educational growth and the desperate desire on the part of youths to acquire University education irrespective of course and course contents. As a result, a number of skills acquired from the University appear useless and irrelevant. With each passing academic year, more and more graduates are being turned out from the various Universities in the country. The NYSC annually mobilizes an average of 250,000 graduates. However, 227,136 corps members served in 2012.
The National Youth Service Corps Scheme and the institution that administers it has been a veritable tool for the promotion of national unity since 1973 when the programme was launched. The scheme has been reengineered and reloaded with the aim of re-aligning its programmes and contents to enable it discharge its duties and responsibilities efficiently. The scheme has redoubled its efforts at implementing policies that are meant to allow corps members render selfless service to the nation in a secured environment as well as prepare them for future leadership positions and challenges of post service life. One of the policies is Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development.
The introduction of Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development training to corps members is to ensure that they become job creators instead of job seekers. It is expected that in the long run, the scheme will bring about industrial revolution in the country. The Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development drive of the scheme is two pronged namely: Skill Acquisition and the other one, Entrepreneurship Development. The first component has to do with equipping interested corps members with specific technical/vocational skills in identified skill sets based on individual interest while the later focuses more of developing the business/enterprise capacities of corps members. Presently Corps members are being trained in skills areas as Agro-allied, Food Preservation, Culture and Tourism, Cosmetology, Information Communication Technology (ICT), Environment, Beautification, Construction, Education, Power and Energy, Film and Photography and Automobile.
In ensuring that the schemes objective is achieved, the National Youth Service Corps is in collaboration with a number of organisations at both national and international levels. These organisations provide materials, technical and financial support for the programme. The scheme has a signed memorandum of understanding with Bank of Industry (BOI), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and so on. To further the cause of the initiative, a total of 285,000 corps members have been trained under the skill acquisition programme (The Source Magazine, 2016).
Small Business Service (2005) asserts that the possession of entrepreneurial skills to create new knowledge based social enterprises is vital to addressing the social and environmental issues effectively. In the face of global meltdown, entrepreneurship is a central pillar to economic growth and development, employment generation and poverty alleviation (Unachukwu, 2009). Therefore, Nigeria cannot afford to toy with the issue of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship skill acquisition and development.
Statement of the Problem
This study focused on the relevance of National Youth Service Corps skill acquisition programme to the reduction of unemployment in Nigeria. In the olden days the private and public organisations (employers) searched for potential employees to engage. The employers would go around universities and polytechnics to search for potential graduates for employment. As at that time there were fewer universities and polytechnics and enrolment was very low compared to now. Presently about 1.8 million youths graduate annually from Tertiary Institutions. Major Industries in Nigeria have closed down from operations due to power failure, government policies and other economic issues that could have made them to expand their business or engage more employees to boost their operations.
The problem of lack of skill and experience is very vital as consideration to graduates being engaged for any particular task or employment. Ekong (2008) posits that institutions of higher learning in Nigeria have concentrated more on theoretical and abstract instructional deliveries, focusing only on cognitive development and consequently turning out non entrepreneurial skilled graduates into the labour market. The non-linkage of the requirements (administrative/technical/course content, etc.) between Universities and organisations who are employers of labour could not influence the undergraduate curriculum to enable the fresh graduate to be engaged by organisations.
The Supervised Industrial Training Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) was to expose our students to the labour market before graduation, but this has been compromised by lack of planning, supervision and corruption. Employment in Nigeria is affected by corruption both in the public and private sectors of the economy. Whom you know and how much you can pay could determine your chances of being employed.
The Nigerian government has been in collaboration with private investors to encourage the practice of Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development but low progress has been made up to date. This is associated to the attitude, low level of understanding and perceptions among the young undergraduates towards entrepreneurship. This problem led to the introduction of Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition Programme under the National Youth Service Corps for corps members to serve as a training period for them during their service year.
Despite the attempts by previous regimes to reduce unemployment, the condition of the Nigerian graduate still leaves a lot to be desired. This study therefore, seeks to investigate the relevance of the NYSC skill acquisition programme in reducing unemployment rate in Nigeria.
Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which the Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development training of the National Youth Service Corps have helped to reduce unemployment in Nigeria. The study focuses on:
In order to carry out this research project, some working hypotheses were developed. The research hypotheses for this project are;
Significance of the Study
There has been tremendous growth in graduate unemployment as well as the demand for university education in Nigeria. This study provides the basis for which graduates in search of employment or self-employment are able to face the challenges of unemployment plaguing the country.
The study also provides a comprehensive view of the achievement of National Youth Service Corps Scheme as an instrument of job creation in the socio-economic development of graduates and the overall national development of the country.
Theoretically, it contributes significantly to the existing literature on the subject matter. It also provides information on the effectiveness of the National Youth Service Corps in the reduction of unemployment in Nigeria. Data were made available on the number of graduates so far trained on Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition and their availability for employment in organisations.
The findings of this study would make provision for research information on Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition programme of the government and its agencies which is at present not enough in literature. That is, there is not enough research information on the government contribution towards the effectiveness of the National Youth Service Corps Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme as well as its constraints.
The study will benefit policy making by ensuring that effective and efficient policies are proposed to government for the enhancement of and sustainability of the skill acquisition programme for graduates during their service year to reduce mass poverty and unemployment in the country.
The Corps members will be professionally trained on various skills that are relevant for their survival in the growing unpredictable economic environment. They would have been trained in certain skills that will make them job creators thereby avoiding poverty and unemployment. They too will become employers of our youths for the various jobs created by them.
Lastly, the study would make useful contributions to the general readers and researchers who want to study on the same topic or any related topics on Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development.
Scope of Study
The main focus of the study was to take a critical assessment of the National Youth Service Corps in facilitating youth employment. The National Youth Service Corps has different programmes for skill acquisition and other programmes for job creation. The programmes are targeted at impacting skill and creating jobs for both graduates and non-graduates. Some programmes are designed for both groups. Therefore, the target of this study was limited to graduates only. These include graduate students from Universities and Polytechnics currently serving within Surulere Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Definition of Terms
The following terms in the study are defined as follows:-
Skill acquisition: This is the training of a person on a particular task or function thereby making him/her an expert in it.
Unemployed: This refers to the numbers of economically active graduates who are without work but are available for and seeking work, including people who have lost jobs or voluntarily left work.
Unemployment: This is when people are without jobs.
Unemployment Rate: This is a measure of the level of unemployment and it’s calculated as a percentage of dividing the number of unemployed individuals by all individuals currently constituting the labour force.
Entrepreneurship: This refers to the capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit and be self-employed.
Entrepreneurship skill development: These are the training given to the entrepreneur. It includes personal characteristics, interpersonal skills, critical and creative thinking skills and practical skills.
Poverty: This is referred to as a condition in which a person or group of persons are unable to satisfy their most basic and elementary requirements for human survival in terms of good nutrition, clothing, shelter, health, education, recreation, and others.
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