Why Seeking Jobs Abroad Is Not An Option For Young Nigerians

Among Nigeria's economic challenges, youth unemployment remains the most formidable. Official statistics on unemployment in Nigeria often underestimate the severity of the problem. The World Bank proposed strategies for addressing youth unemployment in Nigeria.

One is the creation of safe and legal labour migration pathways for young Nigerians to seek job opportunities in other countries. This would be in contrast with the current illegal and perilous migration patterns. The proposals are laudable, as there are acute shortages of skilled workers in some developed countries. The U.S., Canada and the UK have introduced special visas for attracting skilled workers from other countries. Workers from Asia, especially India, have benefited from these opportunities. 

The World Bank proposes that countries of destination looking to fill labour shortages provide high-quality and industry-relevant training to potential migrants and nonimmigrants in Nigeria. This, it argues, would increase the global stock of workers and contribute to a brain gain. This proposal is theoretically sound. But it poses a number of questions. Innovation and disruptive technologies have become salient components of industrialised economies. Robotics, 3-D printing, precision machining, data analytics, bioinformatics, digital imaging, design and animation all feature prominently. Not many young Nigerian possess these frontier skills.

This lack of skills is not only a Nigerian problem; it is pervasive across Africa. This explains it why much of labour migration - about 80% - in Africa is intra-regional, rather than international. It consists mainly of unskilled workers. Without addressing the problems of skills mismatch and the lack of digital skills, young Nigerians will continue to miss out on opportunities in the global labour market, writes Stephen Onyeiwu for The Conversation.


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