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Niyi Ademoroti: Bridging the Chasm Between Millennials & Employers in Modern Nigeria



There is a growing chasm between employers and people on the Nigerian job market; the former insist people are unemployable, while the latter lament the absence of jobs. You see it everywhere: companies, understaffed and always in the news looking for more hands, while young graduates are seated waiting in their parents’ homes, hoping for a job interview.

The stories are wild on both sides: Companies conducting hundreds of interviews only to fill one position, and still not finding a qualified candidate. The applicants who show up are terribly inept or just plain indisciplined, revealing the absence of logical thought and work ethic in a casual chat with the human resources personnel. People remaining at home years after graduating, unable to find a good job – the ones available are either seeking to exploit you, or you end up someplace where your line manager believes it’s in their right to send you on an errand to buy amala and pure water.

It’s hard to tell what side has the most valid arguments, or if the validity of one negates the validity of the other. Because, really, it’s an insane thing to have to interview hundreds of applicants for only one job position. And it is just as insane for a company to demand of an applicant mid-level experience and an A4-paper long job description for the pay and role of an intern.

There are a few reasons for the current state of affairs. There’s the Nigerian educational system and how it has, well, failed most people. The quality of education in our primary schools is shocking. Phonetics, with which you’re expected to begin the learning of the English Language, is an absent topic in a lot of schools, most of them going straight to A for Apple B for Ball. If a child’s foundation is shaky how is she expected to build up on it?

Across the country, our secondary schools are special centers, with students copying the answers to their examination questions off the blackboard before them, where it has been written clearly by their teachers. Not enough learning goes on in the four walls of a university these days. Sure, there are a few exceptions. But in a damning majority, having enough money will see you graduate with a second class upper degree. Lecture halls are packed, and students who have to arrive as early as 5 AM for a 7 AM lecture are saddled with lecturers who stand somewhere in the front, murmuring into a microphone. The common refrain is I go to class to mark attendance, I study to understand.

Lecturers who demand sex for marks are everywhere, and more are those who demand you pay them for a decent grade. How then do we expect to graduate people who are employable? Students today have to make the extra effort to learn outside the ancient curriculum. Our tech industry today is blazing but what developer, designer or tech-writer did not learn their trade on their own, no help from school?

Another thing is: are companies looking for finished products or are they willing to train people who show potential? Then again, what skill to potential ratio is an applicant required to show before employing and training can be justified. It is a business, after all, and making a profit is the end goal.

Companies, too, need to learn that structure is a good thing. The entrepreneurial craze is fine, but too many of these bosses do not know how to run an office, how to manage employees, and they don’t care to. It is the least (besides the prompt payment of salaries) that a company can do for its employees. Your office accountant has no business switching on the generator. It’s not fair. Let the communications officer stay the communications officer, don’t expect them to arrive the office in the morning to sweep.

A complete overhaul of the education system is needed; people really are unemployable, and it is the schools they pass through that is the major reason for this. An overhauling is also necessary in the way most youth today see the future, life. A lot of young are impatient, unwilling to do the work but eager for the results. We want to lowo and lola but the ise is hard. Maybe if we were willing to do a lot of self-development, things wouldn’t be as bad. Because there are a lot of opportunities. Honestly. The country may indeed be messed up but opportunities abound.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Niyi Ademoroti is the Features Editor at BellaNaija and an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His writing has appeared in AGNI, Hobart and The Republic.

1 Comment

  1. Evi

    October 4, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    This was my conversation with a friend on Tuesday. The problem, I beleive lies primarily with the education system (Tertiary), which bears no semblance with today’s work environment and expectations, hence the abundance of half baked graduate..
    I think, Companies should be willing to give “potentials” a try, peharps, develop a probatory period for them to show themselves fitting for the specific role.
    I hope in the end, our graduates are able to meet up with demands of today’s work environments and expectations.

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