PEOPLE shocked that doctorate degree holders are applying for jobs as truck drivers may not appreciate the extent of the unemployment situation.
Statistics are unreliable, but revelations that six Ph.D holders and 704 others with Master's degree applied to Dangote Group as truck drivers raise questions about our education and our uses of the educated.
"All these things are verifiable, and they all graduated from reputable institutions which is satisfactory; and our plan is to eventually make them self dependent," Aliko Dangote said at a mentoring session of the World Bank Youth Forum.
Debates over if a Ph.D holder should apply for a truck driver's position, miss the point. Such debates are at the perplexing level of encountering a national challenge that has been on for many years.
Thirteen thousand applied though Dangote had only 100 openings. How would you compare that to the 39,000 applications that a federal broadcasting agency received 10 years ago when it advertised eight positions? The problem has been lingering, and growing with the thousands who graduate from higher institutions annually.
High unemployment rates have devastating impacts including the fact that families that invested their fortune in education, in the hope that the educated would rescue other family members, are stuck with their unemployed young ones.
It is a long frustrating process that leaves generations of Nigerians wasting. When university graduates, especially higher degree holders, apply for jobs ordinarily meant for those who are not so educated, we should worry too about increasing unemployment rates among the uneducated.
The attraction for most of the applicants could be the generous conditions of the employment. Apart from their salaries, and trip allowances, Dangote said the truck becomes completely theirs on clocking 300,000km, about 140 trips between Kano and Lagos.
Many would not like to miss the opportunity of owning their own business after serving Dangote. Few jobs offer that type of incentive today. Our Ph.D truck drivers could be budding entrepreneurs, who missed their calling. Dangote is providing something different, more than a job.
The eminent danger is that next year, more people, some from the dwindling universities, could leave their teaching positions for the Dangote offer. We are in the final stages of misapplication of our resources, particularly those who have completed high levels of education and should at least be teaching.
Jobs are so scarce that some make a living from scams that promise jobs. The incident in Abuja where thousands of unemployed graduates protested at the Ministry of Interior because officials denied them access to submit application forms is instructive: the ministry was not recruiting.
Governments' policies are important to reverse this trend which is a ticking bomb.