The concept of human capital refers to the abilities and skills of human resources of a country, while human capital development refers to the process of acquiring and increasing the number of persons who have the skills, education and experience that are critical for economic growth and development of a country’s economy (Okojie, 2005). Also, Ejere (2011) posited that human capital refers to the human factor in the production process; and consists of the combined knowledge, skills or competencies and abilities of the workforce. Of all factors of production, only human beings are capable of learning, adapting or changing, innovative and creative. Human capital development, following Harbison (1973), can be seen as the deliberate and continuous process of acquiring requisite knowledge, skills and experiences that are applied to produce economic value for driving sustainable national development. The significance and relevance of human capital development in the achievement of meaningful and sustainable economic growth and development have been widely acknowledged in various studies. In the absence of substantial investment in the development of human capital in any country, sustained economic growth and development would only be a mere wish, never a reality. Therefore, the place of human capital development in economic growth cannot be overemphasized. Human capital development is a key prerequisite for a country’s socio-economic and political transformation. Among the generally agreed causal factors responsible for the impressive performance of the economy of most of the developed and the newly industrializing countries is an impressive commitment to human capital development (Adedeji and Bamidele, 2003; World Bank, 1995, Barro, 1991).

Furthermore, It has been stressed that the differences in the level of socio-economic development across nations is attributed not so much to natural resources and endowments and the stock of physical capital but to the quality and quantity of human resources (Dauda, 2010). Oladeji and Adebayo (1996) opined that human resources are a critical variable in the growth process and worthy of development. They are not only means but, more importantly, the ends that must be served to achieve economic progress. In addition, the wealth and prosperity of nations rest ultimately upon the development of people and the effective commitment of their energies and talents. Capital and natural resources are passive agents. The active agents of modernization are human beings, for they alone can accumulate capital, exploit natural resources and build political and social organizations (Sankay, Ismail and Shaari, 2010). Harbinson (1973) aptly summarized the importance of human capital to economic and development by stating that “human resources constitute the ultimate basis for the wealth of nations. Capital and natural resources are passive factors of production; human beings are the active agents who accumulate capital, exploit natural resources, build social, economic, and political organizations, and carry forward national development. Clearly a country which is unable to develop the skills and knowledge of its people and to utilize them effectively in the national economy will be unable to develop anything else”.

Nigeria’s major objective has been to attain stability, material prosperity, peace and social progress. However, this has been hampered as a result of internal problems. These include inadequate human development, primitive agricultural practices, weak infrastructure, and uninspiring growth of the manufacturing sector, a poor policy and regulatory environment and mismanagement and misuse of resources. In order to ensure the economy delivers on its potentials, the country experimented with two development philosophies-a private sector-led growth in which the private sector served as the “engine house” of the economy and a public sector – driven growth in which the government assumed the “commanding heights” of the economy. The initial low level of private sector development, however, led to public sector dominance of the economy, encouraged by growth in the oil sector (Dauda, 2010). In time past, prominence had been placed on amassing physical capital to the detriment of human capital in Nigeria’s quest for rapid socio-economic progress. However, earlier development plans which virtually ignored the social or human aspects of development did little to accelerate the pace of growth and development in the country. But since 1990, when the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) started publishing the Human Development Report year after year, the human development pathway to development has gained currency in many developing countries including Nigeria.


Developing Nigeria’s human capital is critical especially now that the country is aspiring to be among the 20 leading economies in the world by the year 2020. But this aspiration will be a venture in futility so long as human capital development is not accorded high priority. Human capital development is a prerequisite for Nigeria and Nigerians to become competitive in the 21st century globalize economy which is skill and knowledge based. A country’s competitiveness in the New International Economic Order (NIEO) is strongly connected to the quality of her human capital. Hence human capital development is undoubtedly the pivot for any meaningful programme of economic development of Nigeria and indeed of any country (Ejere, 2011). The researcher is curious about the relationship between human capital development and economic growth in Nigeria, hence, the need for this study.


The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To examine the relationship between human capital development and economic growth in Nigeria.
  2. To examine the trends of human capital development in Nigeria.
  3. To identify factors militating against the process of human capital development in Nigeria.


  1. What is the relationship between human capital development and economic growth in Nigeria?
  2. What are the trends of human capital development in Nigeria?
  3. What are the factors militating against the process of human capital development in Nigeria.

1.5       HYPOTHESIS

HO: There is no significant relationship between human capital development and economic growth in Nigeria

HA: There is significant relationship between human capital development and economic growth in Nigeria


The following are the significance of this study:

  1. The results of this study will be useful to the government of Nigeria and the general public on ways by which human capital development can be used as a tool for economic development in Nigeria. It will also reveal the trends of human capital development in Nigeria while considering the factors that is limiting the process of human capital development in Nigeria.
  2. This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the human capital development and economic growth in Nigeria, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.


This study is limited to the investment of human resources in Nigeria. It will also cover the influence of the human capital development on economic growth in Nigeria.


Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

 Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work





Adedeji, S.O. and Bamidele R.O. (2003). Economic Impact of Tertiary Education on Human Capital Development in Nigeria in.: Human Resource Development in Africa. Selected Papers for 2002 Annual Conference, Nigerian Economic Society, Ibadan, 499-522.

Barro, R. (1991). Economic Growth in a Cross-section of Countries. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, (2), 407-43.

Dauda, R.O. (2010). Role of Human Capital in Economic Development: An Empirical Study of Nigerian Case. Oxford: Oxford Business and Economics Conference Program.

Ejere, S.I. (2011). Human Capital Development as Catalyst for National Development: Nigeria in Perspective. International Business and Management, 2(2), 98-104.

Harbison, F.H. (1973). Human Resources as the Wealth of Nations. New York: Oxford University Press.

Oladeji, S.I., and Adebayo, A.A. (1996). The Scope for Human Resource Development under the Adjustment Programme in Nigeria. Nigerian Economic Society Annual Conference Ibadan, NES, 441-460.

Sankay, O.J., Ismail., R. and Shaari, A. H. (2010). The impact of human capital development on the economic Growth of Nigeria. Prosiding Perkem V, Jilid, 1, 63 – 72.

Okojie, C.E.E. (1995). Human Capital Formation for Productivity Growth in Nigeria. Nigerian Economic and Financial Review, June, 44-55.