The Interface between Youth Unemployment and Labour Productivity

Omolola Lipede
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If a census is taken in any postgraduate class and they are asked the reasons for coming back to pursue academic, many youths will reveal it is the inability to secure a good and accommodating job in the country. Ask the youths that risked everything to cross the Mediterranean Sea in the bid to get to Italy; they will tearfully explain that the labour market has no placement for them. This is no justification for the actions taken by the youths; however, youth unemployment in the country is prevalent and alarming leading to numerous consequences. Lot consequences have been attached to youth unemployment: the crimes rates, migration, brain drain, human capacity under-utilisation, and increase in poverty, weak purchasing power and obviously a negative change in labour productivity in the country.

According to International Labour Organisation (ILO), unemployment can be defined as the number of the economically active population who are without work but are available for and seeking work, including people who have lost their jobs and those who have voluntarily left work. The youth unemployment rate can be expressed as percentage of the total numbers of persons available for employment at any time but cannot get job. This menace has been seen as one of the obstacles to social and economic progress.

Youth unemployment is one of the cancan worms eating deep into the sustainable growth of Nigeria today; it has maintained an upward trend over the years. A high unemployment is one of the critical socio-economic problems battling Nigeria. Despite the increase in the working population, the employment level is inadequate to absorb the increasing youth in the economy entrants. It is sad to note that the term unemployment has graduated to underemployment in the country, in recent years; youths are more likely to work in low quality job, working long hours for low wages, engaged in hazardous work. The end of this menace seems not to be at sight yet. Generally, unemployment has been a headache to the government, policy makers and even individuals in the country.

Unemployment is a sensitive indicator of the conditions of the labour market. When unemployment rate is low, jobs are secured and relatively easier to find, low rate is often associated with improving wages and working conditions as well as employers competing to attract and retain workers. In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed low labour demand and productivity. Labour productivity is very important in any nation, it determines the prices and wages in the economy. Increase in labour productivity has largely be associated with an increase in wages, low productivity leads to instability in prices, reduction in wages. Whenever the issue of youth unemployment is mentioned, labour productivity theories play-out.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and according to the United Nation; it would be the third most populous country come 2050. Large human capacity is seen as strength of any country because it implies large economically active population. However, despite these promising factors, the country high level of youth unemployment has plunged it into low productivity over the years. The low productivity has not only affected the growth of the economy, it has also affected the standard of living of the people living in the country, leading to more people falling below the poverty line.

The world is at its 4th industrial revolution, unfortunately, Nigeria is yet to explore the 2nd industrial revolution needless to talk about the 4th revolution. Empirical investigations have found out that there is a positive relationship between youth unemployment and labour productivity in Nigeria. For any country to improve its productivity and probable drive into industrialisation, the youths have to be economically involved in the building process of the economy. Even the agriculture suffers set back because the youth are not finding their place in the sector, the manufacturing is not left in underdevelopment as a result of the increasing youth unemployment.

In conclusion, after all the programs and policies enacted by the government, the rate of youth unemployment has refused to decline. More youths graduate yearly with no placement for them. It is a crying change that the mandatory service year observed by youths is also suffering from this malady. Youth corps members are rejected in various organisation that are being posted to because no space to accommodate them. Why are all policies and programmes geared towards solving this menace falling flat? When will there be space in the labour market to accommodate the youths? These and more are the puzzling questions that led to one’s lack of sleep not as a result of being a nocturnal but because one just wonder.

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