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    Saturday, 17 November 2018

    Youth unemployment bomb ticking louder

    THE Federal Government acknowledged recently that the burgeoning youth unemployment posed a serious threat to security and the country’ s socio - economic development . Remarks by the Permanent Secretary , Ministry of Youth and Sports Development , Olusade Adesola , that our large army of jobless youth is a “ great challenge, ” align with Vice- President Yemi Osinbajo ’s concern that unless urgent steps are taken , the problem could become intractable. That is an understatement : by global consensus , Nigeria ’s youth unemployment, put at 52 . 65 per cent, is a bomb that is ticking louder .
    In the corridors of power , there is no lack of awareness of the reality ; doing the right thing to change the narrative , however, is an insurmountable hurdle . The forum at which Adesola spoke was a job creation policy initiative jointly organised by the ministry and the International Labour Organisation in Abuja; a few days earlier , in Ibadan , Oyo State , Osinbajo had bemoaned the prevailing high rate of joblessness and declared that only through job creation for its youths could a nation truly develop . Question is : since this administration took office 41 months ago , what is its record in job creation and productivity?
    Very dismal . Indeed , so poor that youth unemployment rose to 52 . 65 per cent by Q 4 2017 , from 49 . 7 per cent in the preceding quarter , which translates to 22 . 64 million persons aged between 15 and 35 years old who were either jobless or underemployed , according to the National Bureau of Statistics . Its data showed that 7 . 9 million jobs were lost January 2016 to September 2017 ; some four out of 10 Nigerians are jobless or underemployed ; its 18 . 8 per cent official jobless rate was the world’s third highest after South Africa , 27 . 7 per cent and Greece 20 . 9 per cent by Q 3 2018 .
    The gravity of the problem is revealed in the reality that over 54 per cent of Nigeria ’s rising population of 197 million are below age 35 , while the ILO identifies those aged 15 - 64 as the economically active segment of the populace . With the economy projected by the IMF to grow marginally by 1 . 9 per cent by year end , amid factory closures, a new, higher public sector wage bill and investors taking flight , the jobless time bomb may explode anytime unless urgent , creative steps are taken to put the restless youth to work .
    Like his predecessors , President Muhammadu Buhari refuses to think outside the box or even reach for low -hanging fruits. An economy with low complexity and often run like a primitive fief , Nigeria requires a fundamental restructuring to make it productive and provide jobs for its youth . Instead, the administration repeats the mistakes of the past by tokenistic schemes like N -Power and traderMoni that only scratch the surface when almost 30 million young men and women desperately need jobs , according to an estimate that says 500 , 000 fresh graduates from our institutions of higher learning join the market yearly . Immediate liberalisation and privatisation , opening up key sectors like mining, steel , railways, ports , airports to foreign capital and modernising agriculture are some quick wins it ignores .
    Like other emerging economies with high population like China , India , Brazil and Indonesia , we should adopt strategies to unleash the productive energy of the youth , harness natural resources and promote innovation , technology and small and medium enterprises . Despite turbulence, Brazil’ s unemployment rate is 8 . 2 per cent, Russia ’s 4 . 5 per cent, while India ’s averaged 4 . 05 per cent 1983 - 2017 and is projected at 3 . 4 per cent in 2017 / 18 .
    An economy that relies on oil and gas that contributed only 8 . 55 per cent to GDP by May 2018 is doomed . Better to promote investments and modernisation of agriculture that contributed 22 . 86 per cent and services that added 53 . 97 per cent. Change comes by critical thinking, planning , strategy and consistent implementation of policies . Malaysia ’ s economy has been under - pinned by job creation strategies and today, it is transiting from manufacturing to knowledge - based services as embodied in its Multimedia Super Corridor and Biotechnology Policy adopted in 2005 and faithfully implemented since then, irrespective of party or personnel changes in government . Job creating policies include adopting new technologies with high value- added linkages , emphasising ICT , biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing , while the Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006 - 2010 focused on ICT , SMEs , start- ups and on Public Private Partnership to provide infrastructure .

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