1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria the most populous nation in Africa and the second-largest economy in the continent is endowed with both human and material resources but years of unbridled corruption, mismanagement and sheer waste have hindered economic growth in the country. Consequently, the nation’s resources have been left under-utilized leading to unemployment and abject poverty (Bakare, 2013). The importation of foreign policies that were workable in developed economy failed to improve the economic system with soaring rate of unemployment of our able-bodied youths.
Nigeria with a population of over 160 million and 250 ethnic groups with diverse background of equally diverse individuals with youth demographic approximately 75% (Business Day, (2013) continue to witness more than 150,000 graduates churn-out annually and available jobs remain inadequate to keep pace with the ever expanding army of jobseekers (Bakare 2013). At such, the unemployment rate continues to increase, an unhealthy situation for a developing nation. Nigeria as a nation has been witnessing drastic and frantic security challenges for some years now and the insecurity situation has been partly attributed to unemployment in the country. The position was confirmed by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi (2013) in his speech at the 1st Ochendu Youth Empowerment Lecture Series held in Umuahia, Abia State. He affirmed that insecurity can be triggered and fuelled by factors such as unemployment among others. He gave the statistical rate of unemployment to be 20% in 2009 – 2011 as against 15% in 2002 – 2008 and Bakare (2013) but the recent World Bank statistics, revealed youth unemployment rate at 38 per cent. Realistically, she opined, 80 per cent of Nigerian youths are unemployed, with secondary school graduates mostly found among unemployed rural population accounting for about half of this figure.
Though, the crisis surfaced in forms of communal, religious, political and social economic resulted in loss of lives and properties. Judging from the happenings it is seen as phantom sectarian violence that is responsible as it started in the regions. Today in Nigeria, we live in fears, a position corroborated by Clark & Ausukuya (2013) that we live in absolute suspicion and constant presentiment of an impending disaster as most economic activities have been grounded and crippled resulting the inability of employers to pay their employees thereby exacerbating the already tensed atmosphere of joblessness. It is against this backdrop that BusinessDay in collaboration with the ministry of industry, Trade and Investment, as well as small and medium enterprise development agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) chose the maiden edition of university entrepreneurship development programme (UNEDEP) initiative as a platform to promote entrepreneurship across Nigerian universities and to create in students the hope about the opportunities within the country.
The then Minister, Mr. Olusegun Agagu stated that his ministry stretched the mandate on entrepreneurship to the university level with UNEDEP because of the need to cultivate the culture amongst Nigerian youths. The minister revealed further that there is a global focus on MSMEs adding that more countries are making the development of this sector a priority because it is the only sector that continues to employ while larger corporations are making staff redundant. He enjoined the students to take advantage of the various discussions as it will give them the necessary guidance in developing their business ideas. The aim of this initiative is to empower undergraduates for job and wealth creation as well as poverty alleviation (BusinessDay, 2013).
In another training programme organized for unemployed graduates by the Centre for Human Security, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in collaboration with Kwara State University in Ilorin, the former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Peter Okebukola said that Nigerian Universities have been asked to make entrepreneurship compulsory for all graduates of tertiary institutions in order to help in reducing graduate unemployment in Nigeria, in the nearest future, the measure would have prepared graduates for entrepreneurship towards moving Nigerian forward (Nigerian Tribune, 2013).
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
Unemployment has been identified as a major factor affecting the economic development of Nigeria today. These youths constitute greater fraction of Nigeria’s economically active population. Awogbenle and Iwuamadi (2010), revealed that the statistics from federal bureau of statistics indicated that Nigeria has a youth population of 80 million which represents 60 percent of the total population. Also, 64 million of them are unemployed, while 1.6 million are underemployed. This implies that a lot of energies that would have been used to generate revenues and improve the economy are being wasted. Youths, like other classes of the population have needs to meet (Nnabuife, 2009), but since 1980’s the important roles of the youths have continued to suffer some set back as they can hardly engage themselves in meaningful work (Davies, 2006). The consequence is frustration expressed through various vices that constitute insecurity in the country. The need for this study is to show how different skills acquisitions by the youth can save them unemployment that they found themselves with of government intervention through making loan accessible to them. This study will therefore investigate skill acquisition among youths: a panacea to unemployment and economic growth in Nigeria; a case study of Akwa Ibom Employment and Enterprise Scheme, AKEES.
1.3 Research Objectives
The general objective or main objective of this study is to investigate skill acquisition among youths: a panacea to unemployment and economic growth in Nigeria; a case study of Akwa Ibom Employment and Enterprise Scheme, AKEES. The specific objectives are:
i) To examine the effects of skill acquisitions on the economy in Nigeria
ii) To evaluate the steps taken by Akwa Ibom Employment and Enterprise Scheme, AKEES to promote skill acquisition among the youths for the development of the Nigerian economy
iii) To understand the reasons for the encouragement of skill acquisition by the government in Nigeria
1.4 Research Questions
The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:
i) What are the effects of skill acquisitions on the economy in Nigeria?
ii) What are the steps taken by Akwa Ibom Employment and Enterprise Scheme, AKEES to promote skill acquisition among the youths for the development of the Nigerian economy?
iii) What are the reasons for the encouragement of skill acquisition by the government in Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The research hypotheses to be tested include:
i) There is a significant correlation between skill acquisition and the Nigerian economy
ii) there is a significant influence of skill acquisition on unemployment among Nigerian youths
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be beneficial to the general public, the government and policy makers in educating them on the need to encourage entrepreneurship. The public need to be well informed that gone are the days when Nigerians sit and wait for the government to create jobs; now is the time for private individuals to create jobs in other to enhance economic growth. Also, the government has a part to play in promoting entrepreneurship. The government can embark on meaning projects; enact policies that will support entrepreneurship in Nigeria. The government equally needs to see to it that funds allocated to empower such programmes are well utilized.
In addition, the government needs to enforce entrepreneurship education in schools, in other for our students to be educated on the need to acquire skills to enhance job creation in the country. However, policy makers need to add this study to their work in other to educate upcoming generations about entrepreneurship. This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study is restricted to examining Skill Acquisition among Youths: A panacea to unemployment and Economic growth in Nigeria; a case study of Akwa Ibom Employment and Enterprise Scheme, AKEES.
1.8 Limitations of study
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.
1.9 Definition of terms
The following terms were used during the cause of the study.
Economic growth: This refers to as efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.
Entrepreneurship: This is the willingness to take risks and develop, organize and manage a business venture in a competitive global marketplace that is constantly evolving.
Entrepreneurs are pioneers, innovators, leaders and inventors.
Panacea: This is an answer or solution for all problems or difficulties.
Economic development: This is the process and policies by which a nation improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people. It is also referred to as the quantitative and qualitative changes in an existing economy.