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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Andrew Dabalen



Bankole Oni


with Olatunde A. Adekola


Background study conducted to inform the design of the Nigeria University System Innovation Project November 2000



Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Development Policy Centre The Polytechnic, Ibadan International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Manufacturing and Agriculture National Directorate of Employment Nigerian Employers Consultative Association Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research National Universities Commission National Youth Service Corps Obafemi Awolwo University Ogun State University University of Benin University of Lagos University of Nigeria, Nsukka Yaba College of Technology


Are university graduates in Nigeria adequately educated? This question is hotly debated by the public and the press. It is a question of particular concern to graduates who are seeking employment and to employers who consider hiring them. Graduates complain of high levels of unemployment. The situation is of such concern that hundreds of unemployed university graduates mounted a demonstration in front of the presidential offices (Aso Rock) on October 18, 2000. They demanded that government provide them with jobs. Employers complain that graduates are poorly prepared for work. They believe that academic standards have fallen considerably over the past decade and that a university degree is no longer a guarantee of communication skills or technical competence. As a result, university graduates are commonly viewed as "half baked." Stories and jokes abound in Nigeria regarding the supposed shortcomings of university graduates. Yet empirical information and reports are rare. What is the real situation? Is graduate unemployment a serious problem? How do employers assess the qualifications of current degree-holders? How well do graduates perform when they are able to obtain employment? These concerns have prompted the present study. It seeks to answer these and other questions regarding the levels of graduate preparedness for productive employment. The answers will be critical for understanding Nigeria's l nger term prospects for economic o growth based on the skills and productivity of its work force. The study was conducted during June - August 2000. It is based on an analysis of available labor statistics and extensive interviews with managers from 55 public enterprises, private firms, professional associations and non- governmental organizations. The analysis of labor statistics indicates that the unemployment rate for university graduates may be around 25 percent and that their prospects for employment have worsened over time. In addition, the share of graduates going into the public sector has fallen drastically. The messages conveyed by these managers of surveyed firms are clear: ? ?University graduates are poorly trained and unproductive on the job. ? ?Graduate skills have steadily deteriorated over the past decade. ? ?Shortcomings are particularly severe in oral and written communication, and in applied technical skills. In many cases, employers compensate for insufficient academic preparation by organizing remedial courses for new employees. This increases the firms' operating costs, and reduces their profitability and competitiveness.

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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria 1

Context With half the population of West Africa and vast natural resource endowments, Nigeria holds the potential to be the source of growth and prosperity for the whole region. Instead, economic performance has been erratic and fallen short of expectations (see Table 1). Today 66 percent of Nigeria's citizens live below the international poverty line of one dollar a day. This is a substantial increase from 45 percent in 1985. The main causes of this poor economic

performance have been mismanagement and misguided policy choices. But unstable prices f r petroleum ­ Nigeria's o only real source of export earnings ­ have contributed to these twin problems. Windfall profits from oil price swings have encouraged wasteful expenditures in the public sector and distorted the revenue bases for policy planning. A case in point is the spending boom following the sharp oil price increase in the 1970s, and the associated overvalued exchange rate that led to a collapse of agricultural exports (WORLD BANK: 2000).

Table 1. Nigeria: Key Economic Indicators

Actual 1994 Real growth Rates GDP Oil GDP Non-oil GDP 0.1 -2.6 1.6 2.5 2.5 2.4 4.3 6.9 2.9 2.7 1.4 3.4 1.8 -1.8 3.8 0.8 -3.0 3.5 1995 1996 1997 Estimated 1998 1999

GNP per capita (US dollars)







Terms of trade (1995=100) Real Exchange Rate (1995=100)

102 118

100 100

163 124

119 142

87 156

NA 82.0

SOURCE: Nigeria Country Assistance Strategy ( World Bank 2000)


Acknowledgement: We wish to express our gratitude to Professor Munzali Jibril (Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission) and William Saint (Principal Education Specialist, World Bank) for initiating and supporting this study. During the study we received generous help and excellent cooperation from many individuals, organizations and businesses in Nigeria. These are too numerous to list here but are shown in Annex 2. We thank all those who gave us their time and invaluable insights, particularly at the NUC, National Manpower Board (NMB), and the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC).

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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Figure 1: Per student Expenditures


40000 Real (1987 Naira) and Current Expenditures





Current Naira



5000 Real (1987 Naira) 0 1991




1995 Year





Poor economic performance has punished the social sectors. Large swings in public revenues have led to unpredictable and inconsistent financing of education. Although estimating public expenditures on education in Nigeria is very difficult because three layers of governments

(local, state and federal) are involved and statistics are of uncertain reliability, available information indicates that Nigeria's education sector has been allocated a declining share of GNP over the past two decades (see Table 2.).

Table 2. Total Public Expenditure on Education as Percent of GNP

1980 Nigeria 6.4 1985 1.2 1990 1.0 1995 0.7 1997 0.7

Ghana Kenya South Africa

3.1 6.8 --

2.6 6.4 6.0

3.3 7.1 6.5

4.8 6.7 6.8

4.2 6.5 7.9

Sub-Saharan Africa Low-income Countries

SOURCE: EdStats, World Bank (the 1997 figures are unweighted group average.)

4.2 3.7

A major victim of the decline in financing for education has been higher education (see figure 1). Although the higher education problems drawing the greatest public attention tend to be persistent unrest on campuses and the rise of ant isocial behaviors, it is generally believed that these phenomena are responses to

systemic under- funding and declining quality of higher education. This study explores how these systemic changes have affected the quality and relevance of the academic preparation of university graduates, and their consequences for employers and for national economic growth prospects.


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Why Focus on Higher Education? Compelling incentives exist for Nigeria to examine the quality of its higher education. The most important reason is that higher education is crucial for economic growth. Current theories of long run growth identify two ways in which this happens. One way is that highly skilled workers drive technological innovations through research which in turn lead to larger social productivity increases. The other way is that ­ even in the absence of significant research output ­ a country with a highly skilled labor force has better chances of growing than one with a lesser skilled workforce. This is because skilled workers are more able to learn by doing and therefore to adopt new skills and technologies that are crucial for productivity increases. Nigeria's tertiary education sector comprises 43 federal, state and private universities. The 24 federal institutions are expected to consume roughly USD 252 million in public funding each year from 2001. 2 What does the country receive in return for this investment? Briefly, the country receives more than 50,000 graduates annually. It would cost an estimated U 4,500 to produce each SD graduate. 3


Is the country receiving value for money from its federal university system? Are university graduates in Nigeria adequately educated? This question is hotly debated by the public and the press. It is a question of particular concern to the graduates who seek employment and to the employers who consider hiring them. Graduates complain of high levels of unemployment. The situation is of such concern that hundreds of unemployed university graduates mounted a demonstration in front of the presidential offices (Aso Rock) on October 18, 2000. They demanded that government provide them with jobs. Employers complain that graduates are poorly prepared for work. They believe that academic standards have fallen considerably over the past decade and that a university degree is no longer a guarantee of communication skills or technical competence. As a result, university graduates are commonly viewed as "half baked." Stories and jokes abound in Nigeria regarding the supposed shortcomings of university graduates. Yet empirical information and reports are rare. What is the real situation? Is graduate unemployment a serious problem? How do employers assess the qualifications of current degree- holders? How well do graduates perform when they are able to obtain employment? Let us seek the answers to these questions by looking first at the supply of university graduates in Nigeria.

The total amount of recurrent and capital grants provided to universities by the NUC in 1999 (See Hartnett (2000)) was USD 113 (USD 1=100 Naira). However, recent increases in the salaries of civil servants and academic staff will push the number to USD 900 per student in year 2001. In arriving at the annual subventions to the universities, we assume a current student population of 280,000. 3 Based on the assumption that the average graduate requires five years to complete his or her degree, and that government expenditure per student over the period averages the equivalent of USD 900 each year.


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Supply Nigeria





Total Supply: Enrollment Trends

In all modern economies, universities are the places where specialized human resources are developed. Therefore, they play a crucial role in generating the human capacities for leadership, management and technical expertise. From this point of view access to university education, as reflected in enrollment levels, generally provides an indicator of a country's production of skilled personnel.

Total enrollment of undergraduates in Nigeria rose from 74,331 in 1980 to 275,515 in 1998 (Table 3). This implies a growth rate of 15 percent per year during the period. By world standards, this is quite high. In the 1990s alone, enrollment numbers nearly doubled, increasing from 147,121 in 1990 to 275,515 in 1998. A more sensitive indicator of enrollment growth in universities is the number of first time entrants rather than total enrollments, especially when graduation

Table 3. Total Enrollment by Institution and Year

Institution IBADAN LAGOS NSUKKA ZARIA IFE BENIN JOS CALABAR KANO MAID. SOKOTO ILORIN P/HARC. UYO** AWKA** ABUJA OWERRI AKURE MINNA BAUCHI YOLA MAKURDI** ABEOK.** UMUDIKE** TOTAL 80/81 7,817 8,690 10,291 14,767 10,988 5,973 3,047 2,798 2,479 2,569 883 2,010 2,019 81/82 9,712 8,575 11,838 15,526 11,984 7,159 3,933 3,892 2,851 3,244 1,366 2,784 2,582 82/83 11,140 9,055 12,813 18,295 12,362 8,313 4,284 4,320 3,314 3,130 1,949 4,028 2,849 84/85 13,862 10,126 12,417 17,561 12,997 9,688 5,769 4,871 4,142 6,167 3,299 5,411 3,786 86/87 12,000 11,713 13,593 16,227 13,582 10,413 6,315 5,154 4,264 7,450 3,487 5,817 4,787 91/92 13,858 14,068 18,557 20,954 15,011 15,435 14,561 8,634 8,277 9,200 5,171 9,805 10,825 9,954 6,540 597 3,940 2,096 2,073 2,604 2,561 1,394 2,106 92/93 14,632 14,508 18,408 25,203 15,610 15,810 16,177 9,700 9,288 9,931 6,060 11,637 9,054 9,304 6,833 970 5,427 2,666 2,852 2,836 3,515 93/94 15,428 14,867 19,429 30,619 16,065 17,678 13,823 11,356 11,227 10,000 6,060 13,519 10,476 6,272 1,313 5,244 3,151 4,326 2,995 4,396 94/95 15,914 12,905 20,241 34,610 18,145 18,122 14,230 11,108 11,466 10,280 6,707 13,565 11,426 10,697 5,698 1,347 5,004 3,202 3,646 2,893 5,055 95/96 18,127 14,942 21,852 34,380 19,959 20,058 11,900 14,122 11,706 10,342 8,480 14,052 8,250 9,436 5,904 1,777 5,564 4,839 3,907 3,704 4,910 2,684 2,755 331 253,981

364 149 263 195 512 128 325

693 419 305

1,281 907 568 1,131 464 915 602



97,330 111,513 120,670 198,221 210,421 218,244 236,261

NOTES: Zaria 1988/89 reported underagraduates only Adapted from NUC, Table 1-analysis of total full time enrollment 86/87 adapted from NUC Statistical Digest, Table 1 Adapted from Table 1.3, Total Enrollment by Discipline 1988/89

adapted from TABLE 4.1 Enrollment by Discipline1991/92 adapted from Nigerian Federally Funded Univ, Table 1 93/94 adapted from Actual headcount enrollment 94/95 adapted from Tables showing enrollment 1995-1999


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

rates are significantly less than 100 percent. Evidence shows that new admissions also rose sharply (Table 4).

Between 1991 and 1997, the number of new entrants increased by 35 percent ­ an average of 5 percent per year.

Table 4. New Entrants by Institution and Year

Ave. Annual Growth '90-'99

1.09% 3.45% -1.02% 0.99% -5.38% 4.63% -8.97% 4.02% -0.02% 4.59% 5.68% 0.19% 5.21% 7.27% 3.55% 21.52% 8.25% 5.78% 16.91% 9.63% 12.98%

Institution 80/81 81/82 82/83 83/84 84/85 86/87 87/88 88/89 89/90 90/91 91/92 96/97




3,834 3,634 3,970 3,775 4,023 2,984 951 991 212 442 927 1,157

4,570 3,715 3,005 4,821 2,812 3,043 1,179 1,016 746 336 672 1,240 1,158

4,793 3,250 3,146 6,360 3,258 1,297 1,405 935 853 1,058 905 1,753 457

4,787 3,221 2,745 6,815 3,310 3,051 1,055 1,523 1,080 1,747 1,159 1,595 1,393

5,234 3,999 3,316 7,516 3,479 3,740 1,605 1,455 1,717 1,670 1,558 1,746 1,847

4,163 5,758 3,140 5,086 4,112 2,753 2,365 1,793 1,260 1,708 793 1,485 1,847 381

3,849 4,792 3,385 5,452 2,504 2,526 3,111 1,629 1,413 2,524 1,022 2,016 2,558

4,602 4,600 3,967 4,531 3,820 2,959 3,150 1,684 2,181 2,406 1,748 2,669 2,921

3,993 5,079 4,369 6,071 3,870 3,590 2,809 2,263 2,488 1,854 1,755 2,266 2,684

3,909 5,079 5,094 6,071 4,542 2,982 4,528 3,250 3,327 2,597 1,521 2,905 2,443 2,136 224

4,501 4,682 6,430 6,857 3,114 5,581 6,160 3,551 3,459 2,763 1,373 3,165 3,055 3,811 1,228 298 1,041 616 346 635 766 454 739

9,945 10,757 9,126 7,623 6,400 9,993 6,107 4,859 4,088 5,079 5,533 2,417 2,681 2,417 1,585 1,191 1,059 502 511 210 222 125 115 45

13,993 4,309 11,036 6,892 8,596 4,645 7,709 6,635 6,978 2,760 5,913 4,482 5,073 1,944 4,531 4,635 4,243 3,321 3,754 3,888 3,165 2,500 2,830 2,954 2,367 3,860 2,037 4,016 1,602 1,623 1,030 1,294 809 1,755 632 998 444 1,412 257 1,155 222 1,389 160 98 42 87,521 -5% 66,467 3%



350 93

143 123 248 268

273 130 268 95 287

307 271 496 320 464 249 425

388 220 136 440 382 253 769

631 431 252 412 519 200 355

549 386 700 811 295 204 319

860 602 346 505 463 454 739

263 109

267 187

27,985 28,909 30,367 34,263 39,935 39,176 39,369 44,038 46,355 54,577 64,625 92,590 X 3% 5% 13% 17% 6% 0% 12% 5% 18% 18% 1177%

Adapted from Statistical Information on Nigerian Universities (Oct.1997) Section B, Tables B1 -B12


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

This phenomenal expansion of the student population was experienced by all institutions and regions. However, some differences are observed. In general, first generation universities experienced significantly lower than average (5 percent) enrollment growth rates. 4 Between 1991 and 1998, enrollments in these elite first generation universities increased by an average of just 1.4 percent per year. Although the second generation universities had stronger enrollment growth than first generation universities, their rates were still a modest 2.6 percent per year over the same period. In contrast, the third generation universities displayed annual enrollment growth rates around 10 percent. Among regions, the highest enrollment growth rates (about 8 percent) occurred in the North-East and South-South. Below average growth rates were observed in the South-East (3 percent) during these years. A breakdown of the student population by gender is shown in Table 5. Between 1991 and 1997, the population of male students grew by 42 percent (or about 6 percent per year 5 ). Over the same period, the population of female students rose by 66 percent. Consequently, the proportion of female students in the population of all students increased from 27 percent in 1991 to 33 percent in 1997.

Although high enrollments suggest a large supply of skilled labor, high repetition and drop-outs could undermine the expected flow of such workers. Data on repetition and drop-out rates within the federal university system are not available. As a result, it is difficult to predict what proportion of an incoming cohort will graduate as skilled professionals within the expected time. Fortunately, this does not pose a problem because data on the actual number of labor market entrants are available. An estimate of the real supply of skilled labor is presented in Table 6. In 1986, federal universities alone supplied 27,312 job-seekers with degree training. Five years later (1991), this output had risen to over 41,000. By 1997, annual labor market entrants with a university education had topped 47,000. It is important to bear in mind that these figures are lower bound estimates because in addition to federal universities, numerous state universities also send graduates into the labor market. Moreover, supply will increase further if post-graduate entrants are counted.

Supply of Critical Skills.


First generation universities include Ibadan, Lagos, Nsukka, Zaria, Ife, and Benin. The second generation universities are Jos, Calabar, Kano, Maiduguri, Sokoto, Ilorin and Port Harcourt. The remainder make up the third generation universities. 5 Notice that there is a significant discrepancy in student population total in Table 3 and that in Table 5 in 97/98. This may be due to an undercount of female students in Ife and or Port Harcourt.

The composition of skills (i.e., specializations) that entered the labor market between 1986 and 1996 is given in Table 7. At the beginning of the period, the largest share of labor market entrants with university education found employment in the education sector (30 percent), followed by general social sciences (16 percent) and natural sciences (10 percent). Strikingly, this skill mix remained unchanged for a decade ­ until the end of 1996.


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Table 5. Enrollment by Gender

Institution IBADAN LAGOS NSUKKA ZARIA IFE BENIN JOS CALABAR KANO MAID. SOKOTO ILORIN P/HARC. UYO AWKA ABUJA OWERRI AKURE MINNA BAUCHI YOLA MAKURDI ABEOK. UMUDIKE Total Combined 86/87 M F 8770 3230 8354 3359 10566 3027 12926 3301 10492 3090 7468 2945 4545 1770 3809 1345 3697 567 5611 1839 3051 436 4560 1257 3674 1113 88/89 M F 8675 3311 12767 4744 10538 3362 8808 2312 10187 2988 7575 3093 6487 2776 3778 1376 4379 799 4874 2140 3157 642 5255 1383 5060 1912 95/96 96/97 97/98 M F M F M F 11994 6133 13792 7469 13976 8453 9490 5452 10383 6458 10469 7409 13134 8718 13134 8719 12526 10563 34380 26219 5790 12364 5457 14027 5932 14474 5429 11832 5468 15038 5020 14567 13469 7369 7871 4029 8067 4169 6926 4119 9131 4991 8111 5138 9089 6348 11706 9771 878 7891 3543 7455 2887 9171 4368 8155 2964 6714 1766 7110 1933 7110 1933 9865 4187 11006 4821 10454 4964 5162 3088 8776 6163 8758 4400 5740 3696 7619 4832 6673 5510 3374 2530 3586 2510 3586 2510 1777 3961 3864 0 200 4476 1088 4223 1068 5384 1351 180 4051 788 4978 966 5466 995 109 3283 624 3702 740 3584 703 485 2686 1018 3465 810 4844 935 140 4250 660 4125 426 5459 581 123 2285 399 2291 400 2076 375 326 747 747 2046 768 2071 1001 220 111 329 172 513 278 32,401 121,432 52,582 140,993 63,864 176,378 74,027 172,675 87,229 197,041 252,720 268,933 263,768 91/92 M F 9889 3968 9657 4411 12695 5862 20954 0 11576 3435 9606 5829 10397 4164 5986 2648 6523 1754 7115 2085 3405 587 7437 2368 5931 4894 6035 3919 3450 3090 348 249 2733 1207 1811 285 2073 0 2041 563 2081 480 1180 214 1536 570

1188 788 477 971 374 776 467

93 119 91 160 90 139 135

1725 1126 650 1514 639 773 901

92,564 28,106 98,868 120,670


SOURCE: 86/87 adapted from NUC Statistical Digest, Table 1 80-85 adapted from World Bank (1988), Table A-6 97/98 adapted from NUC: total enrollment by institution. Grand Totals conflict with Figures recorded on worksheet titled "Total Student Enrollment by Institution and Year"


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

For a populous country such as Nigeria, where delivery of education services is an urgent matter, it is not surprising that many of the university graduates are absorbed into the education sector. However, increases in the supply of other crucial skills such as medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, and engineering have been much less dramatic. For example, whereas the proportion of students enrolled in engineering and technology increased from 9 to 12 percent between 1991 and 1996 (see Tables 8a and 8b), the share of engineers among graduates remained at about 6 percent during the same period. Likewise, the proportion of graduates with skills in important disciplines such as agriculture (5 percent), medicine (5 percent), and veterinary medicine (0.6 percent) appear to be less than the share of students enrolled in these disciplines (see Tables 8a and 8b). But unlike engineering where enrollments increased even as the proportion of engineers among graduates remained

constant, a worrying trend in these other disciplines is that student enrollment numbers have remained stagnant. In a country with strong population growth, this should give cause for concern. Judging by the size of graduate output, the evidence from Table 7 suggests a tendency for the federal universities to produce fewer graduates in critical areas. In 1996, education and social sciences supplied 12,390 and 9,201 graduates respectively. In contrast, science-related majors who entered the labor market that year were about 7,000. The numbers were even much smaller in more specialized professional disciplines. Just 2,402 graduates of medicine, 405 pharmacists and only 275 veterinary medical graduates were produced for a nation of 120 million persons. The small numbers of graduates in some critical areas should be a source of concern if Nigeria has a shortage of these skills.


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Table 6. Total Graduate Output by Institution, Discipline and Year

INSTITUTION IBADAN NSUKKA KANO P HARC. JOS IFE LAGOS BENIN MAID. ILORIN UYO AWKA CALABAR SOKOTO OWERRI AKURE BAUCHI ABEOK. MAKURDI YOLA MINNA ZARIA ABUJA UMUDIKE TOTAL 86/87 3,821 4,359 1,060 817 1,344 3,269 3,436 1,453 1,363 1,382 0 0 1,103 711 81 61 90 5 85 0 0 2,872 0 0 27,312 88/89 3,040 3,826 983 2,264 2,181 2,756 4,126 3,630 1,279 1,420 0 0 2,447 817 213 136 73 0 57 45 23 2,980 0 0 32,296 91/92 3,173 5,924 1,380 2,107 2,888 4,397 4,709 3,392 1,474 2,750 1,404 858 1,587 749 296 260 121 123 224 169 124 3,249 0 0 41,358 95/96 6,813 4,259 3,922 3,519 5,961 3,427 3,135 3,873 2,706 3,346 1,314 1,274 1,208 1,169 490 408 298 369 298 334 120 0 0 0 48,243 96/97 6,929 4,611 4,317 3,826 3,565 3,427 3,372 3,299 3,166 3,162 1,314 1,276 1,208 1,066 741 495 389 369 353 334 120 0 0 0 47,339 4.34% Ave. annual % growth 9.59% 2.10% 17.87% 6.00% 5.61% 2.45% -2.22% -1.06% 10.60% 9.30% -1.10% 6.84% -7.54% 3.00% 14.86% 15.44% 20.43% 20.09% 22.46% 24.95% 20.15% 2.08%


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Table 7. Graduate Output by Discipline and Year

DISCIPLINE ADMINISTRATION AGRICULTURE ARTS EDUCATION ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENT LAW MEDICINE PHARMACY SCIENCE SOC. SCIENCE VET. MEDICINE TOTALS 1986/87 1897 1120 3907 7836 1569 842 1440 1439 295 2582 4190 195 27,312 1988/89 2088 1366 4072 10686 1871 814 1714 1593 298 3503 4139 152 32,296 1991/92 2459 1681 4292 13950 2246 942 1892 1646 551 5109 6383 207 41,358 1995/96 2233 2371 5569 14449 2867 779 1264 2205 421 6593 9199 293 48,243 1996/97 2332 2453 5596 12390 3210 669 1417 2402 405 6989 9201 275 47,339

The above analysis of university enrollment and output trends reveals that the supply of university educated workers in Nigeria has grown over time. But what has been the employment demand for these graduates? This is the topic of the next section. Labor Demand and Graduate Employment The demand for labor is derived from production and distribution activities in the goods and services sectors. As a result, its size and shape are sensitive to what happens in the national economy. The brief description of the Nigerian economy given at the outset above would suggest that the demand for labor has been poor and vo latile at best.

Obtaining accurate information on labor demand is perhaps the most difficult challenge in collecting labor market information. This is because hiring decisions by firms are typically uncoordinated and in many cases unannounced. For the purpose of this study, the challenge is made more daunting by the narrowness of our interest: the demand for university graduates. Additional labor analysis problems in Nigeria stem from the fact that no systematic collection of labor market data takes place. Therefore, it becomes necessary to infer labor demand for university graduates through secondary data such as manpower surveys, the few existing labor market studies, and direct interviews with major employers.


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Recent Labor Market Surveys Graduate (Un)employment


Since 1983, the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) has conducted studies and produced reports from sample surveys of the Nigerian labor force taken on a regular basis. The findings of these surveys are summarized in the agency's Annual Abstracts of Statistics. According to the latest report (1997), overall unemployment rates in Nigeria ranged from 2 to 3 percent between 1992 and 1996. At the same time, urban rates were at most 6 percent while rural unemployment never exceeded 4 percent.

If we turn our attention to unemployment by level of education (Table 9), two important conclusions emerge. First, workers with more than secondary education experience significantly higher labor market success than those with secondary education or less. The data in Table 9 indicate that the proportion of workers with post-secondary education is smaller among the unemployed than for any other groups. These differences are particularly sharp when secondary school certificate holders are compared with post-secondary graduates.

Table 9. Percent of Unemployed Persons by Level of Education.

Educational Level 1992 All levels No schooling Primary Secondary Postsecondary 100.0 19.0 15.7 59.2 6.1 1993 100.0 17.2 17.9 60.9 4.0 Period 1994 100.0 13.3 13.2 68.7 4.8 1995 100.0 18.7 36.7 37.5 7.1 1996 100.0 20.0 11.5 51.3 17.2

Source: FOS (1997), Table 182.

Second, the employment advantage of post-secondary graduates has been eroding throughout the 1990s. In 1992, only 6 percent of all unemployed claimed to have completed post-secondary education. But four years later, 17 percent of the unemployed possessed postsecondary education. This supports the common argument that unemployment rates among university graduates have risen in recent years.

Nevertheless, some would argue that FOS numbers are too conservative. Since the post-secondary category includes graduates of colleges of education and polytechnics as well as university graduates, it is possible that unemployment rates for university graduates may be different from those for the post-secondary category as a whole. Let us explore this possibility.


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Alternative sources of information for inferring the labor market prospects of university graduates are provided by two recent labor market studies undertaken by the National Manpower Board. One study looked at labor market conditions in the state of Lagos. The other encompassed

selected metropolitan areas of the federal republic. In both studies, information on educational attainment was explicitly collected. Table 10 shows the distribution of unemployed workers by levels of education. Estimated unemployment rates are presented in Table 11.

The breakdown of unemployed persons according to their level of educational attainment (shown in Table 10) confirms, just as was seen in Table 9, that university graduates are much less represented among the unemployed in comparison to those with secondary education. In all metropolitan areas, the proportion of

graduates among the unemployed is only about 10 percent. This would seem to imply that university graduates stand a better chance of obtaining employment than those with only secondary education. But other unfavorable characteristics of the labor markets face graduates that are not apparent in Table 10.

Table 10. Share of Unemployment by Level of Education

Metropolitan Area Aba Abuja Ibadan Jos Kano Lagos city Maiduguri Port Harcourt All metro areas Lagos state Secondary 45.7 47.8 53.6 45.8 46.7 53.8 33.3 68.1 53.9 57.6 Polytechnic and Monotechnic 12.3 18.9 13.2 15.6 8.8 19.4 21.2 4.7 14.5 12.0 University (1st degree) 12.3 8.9 9.0 1.2 0.0 11.4 6.1 10.8 9.4 14.3

Note: The shares for metropolitan areas are obtained from a Labor Market Study of 8 metropolitan areas, unpublished, 1998. The figures for Lagos state come from FGN-NMB (1998a). Note that the values do not add up to 100 percent because shares of other unemployed groups are not shown.

Unlike establishment and FOS data, these recent labor market surveys ( FGN-NMB 1998a; NMB 2000) calculate employment rates by educational levels. A look at Table 11 leads to four unpleasant findings. 12

First, in sharp contrast to the FOS figures, overall unemployment rates in local area labor markets are much higher. The average unemployment rate across all metropolitan areas is 17 percent. Second,

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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

unemployment rates for university graduates are high. The data presented in Table 11 show that for every 100 graduates, 22 report being unemployed. Third, the severity of the unemployment problem among graduates varies across regions. For instance, whereas graduate unemployment was negligible in two of the northern metropolitan areas included in the study (Jos and Kano), it approached 30 percent in some areas of the south. Finally, although in many of these local markets unemployment rates for graduates

are lower than for individuals with secondary education, there are places ­ Aba and Lagos ­ where the rates are higher for graduates. What these recent labor market studies show is that ­ even though the rates cannot be generalized for the whole country ­ in places where many graduates are located, e.g. major urban areas, the labor market prospects for university graduates are bleak.

Table 11. Unemployment Rate by Level of Education

Metropolitan Area Aba Abuja Ibadan Jos Kano Lagos city Maiduguri Port Harcourt All metro areas Lagos state Secondary 15.2 29.9 22.4 26.0 15.3 16.5 13.6 48.5 23.5 22.6 Polytechnic / Monotechnic 30.0 23.2 24.0 16.0 21.0 19.5 18.0 28.4 15.0 23.2 University (1st degree) 26.3 16.0 19.0 5.0 0.0 29.4 13.3 29.1 21.7 17.3 Overall unemployment rate 16.2 19.2 17.5 16.3 10.7 12.9 8.9 34.7 17.2 17.2

Note: The rates for metropolitan areas are obtained from a Labor Market Study of 8 metropolitan areas, unpublished, 1998. The figures for Lagos state come from FGN-NMB (1998a).

Estimates of Graduate Employment From Manpower and Tracer Studies

Two additional sources used to gauge graduate employment are manpower surveys and tracer studies. In Nigeria, manpower surveys began in 1977 and were conducted regularly every five years until 1991. The surveys gathered employment information from medium and large scale establishments employing 10 or more persons. The surveys also 13

covered all professional firms in accountancy, architecture, medicine, law etc., even if they employed fewer than 10 persons. For many years, these surveys provided methodologically consistent and informative monitoring of developments in Nigeria 's labor market. These reports confirm the preponderance of public enterprises in the nonagricultural sector of the nation's economy. In 1991, the combined federal,

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state and local government-owned enterprises comprised 21 percent of all establishments. Although this portion of pure public establishments was lower than their 44 percent share in 1981, it did not imply that government involvement in productive activities had diminished. In the same decade, the proportion of firms owned jointly by government and private entrepreneurs rose from 5 percent to 49 percent. At the same time, the purely private firms declined from 57 percent of total to 29 percent. The implications of these ownership patterns for employment should be obvious. First, public sector's share of non-agricultural employment has been dominant and its position has not been challenged. About 60 percent of all formal employment is provided by public firms. Furthermore, an additional 30 percent of all formal employees work in firms with joint private and public ownership. This leaves just 10 percent of all formal employment in private establishments. Prior to 1991 these surveys did not collect information on the educational attainment of employees. But in 1991 this information was incorporated into the analysis. It thus offers some insight into the labor market prospects for graduates. The 1991 report indicates that on average 35 percent of the employees in all responding firms' possessed a university education. In some states, mostly in the South, nearly 50 percent of all responding firms' employees were so educated. In other states ­ including Lagos State ­ only one- fifth of workers in responding firms had a university education. Interestingly, private firms employed a higher share of graduates (43 percent of all their employees) than the firms owned by the federal government (29 percent). 14

Tracer studies of university graduates can also provide insight regarding graduate employment in the public sector. A 1984 tracer study found that the majority of the graduates (58 percent) worked in the public sector. It reported that over half of the graduates obtained employment in state- level civil service, 6 percent found jobs in the federal civil service, and another 17 percent worked in government parastatals ( FGN: 1986). Another tracer study found that 34 percent of older graduates (those born in the 1960s and graduated from the university in the 1980s) worked in the public sector (Ugwuonah and Omeje: 1998). As shown above, these manpower surveys provided useful labor market information before their suspension. Yet these surveys were not without problems. Although the proportion of persons sampled who returned questionnaires averaged a respectable 60 percent across surveys, serious problems with coverage were not entirely resolved. For example, the establishment list was often inadequate and incomplete. Additionally, many firms on the list could not be located. Incompleteness of the list presents one form of bias ­ sampling bias ­ which is created by the surveyors. And if some firms were included in the list but they fail to respond, non-response bias presents another form of bias. Should nonrespondents happen to share common characteristics, say they are all small, or they are all private and so forth, such selection bias casts doubt on statistics that break down employment by size or by ownership. Quite apart from these biases, the surveys' limited collection of key variables such as educational attainment renders the m useless in arriving at specific inferences regarding labor market conditions of university graduates. When the enormous changes that have taken

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place in Nigeria since the last survey was conducted are taken into account, it is readily apparent that labor market information from the manpower surveys for the issue at hand ­employment conditions of university graduates ­ is already very much out of date. However, tracer studies can be used in conjunction with public sector employment registers to arrive at a reasonable estimate of graduate (un)employment. The following discussion seeks to achieve this objective.

Combining Tracer Studies and Public Sector Employment rosters

all three of these areas. If this can be done, trends in graduate employment distribution among these sectors will give us useful clues to the more recent experience of graduates in the labor market.

Public Sector Employment for Graduates

Three main sources of employment exist for university graduates in Nigeria: (a) the public sector, including government ministries, schools, and parastatals; (b) the private sector, which encompasses small to medium- sized private business as well as multinational corporations; and (c) selfemployment. Any good assessment of graduate employment prospects in the country must therefore include reasonable indicators of graduate absorption rates in

The public sector in Africa has historically been a major employer of university graduates. In fact, in most countries it has been the single biggest formal sector employer. And Nigeria has not been an exception. The establishment surveys show that the public sector in Nigeria absorbed about 60 percent of the formal sector workers at the beginning of the 1990s, when the last such survey was produced (FGN-NMB: 1991 ). It is reasonable to expect that many of these workers are university graduates. More precisely, as at the end of 1997, the federal government employed a total of 163,991 federal civil servants (FGN, 1999 ). Of these, 42,695 (or 26 percent) held grades 8 and above which have

Table 12. Applications and Hires into the Federal Civil Service

Year 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999(*) 2000(**) Number of applications 9650 8694 14,312 10,250 9441 8172 63,414 50,000 + Number of graduates(+) 5673 9398 7220 6390 5139 Proportion of Graduates 65.2 66.5 70.4 65.6 62.9 Number of offers 2459 617 756 329 179 138 226 3301 Percent Absorption 25.5 7.1 5.3 3.2 1.9 1.6 0.35 6.6

Note: Figures from FGN (1999). Graduates(+) includes those with post-graduate degrees. The numbers for 1999(*) are not published yet, but known, while those for the year 2000(**) are provisional (Federal Civil Service Commission, personal conversation).6


The reports were all printed in 1999. However, each year's report was produced separately. The number of senior positions rises to 57,015 (35 percent) of all federal civil servants if we include grade 7 in the count. It must be remembered though that grade 7 is open to individuals with diplomas from middle -level colleges (polytechnics and colleges of education). The reason why graduate employment is over represented is that individuals with university education are likely to be far less than 26 percent in the population.


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traditionally been the grades dominated by university graduates ( FGN: 1997).3 Naturally, any emerging trend concerning recent graduate intake into the public sector will be a strong indicator of graduate employment prospects. Table 12 shows applications and hires by the federal civil service in Nigeria in the 1990s (FGN: 1999). The figures given in Table 12 should not be mistaken for all available federal civil service positions. Instead, they represent only grade levels 7 and above, i.e., senior positions, whose filling is the responsibility of the recruitment division of the federal civil service commission. As expected, the majority of the applicants for the senior positions are university graduates. The remainder are mostly graduates of polytechnics and other mid- level colleges. If we accept that historically the federal civil service had been a major employer of graduates, then recent trends in civil service recruitment show very gloomy employment prospects for university graduates. A comparison of the first two and the last two columns in Table 12 shows just how disappointing employment in the federal civil service has been for graduates in recent years. The number of positions opening represented less than 10 percent of applications for most of the 1990s. Part of the problem is that regular recruitment into the civil service was suspended between 1994 and 1998 in order to carry out an internal audit of the federal civil service. This merely compounded the problem because by 1999, when all the delayed applications came on stream, less than 1 percent of all qualified applicants could be hired. Furthermore, most of these hirings occurred in the field of

education (Federal Civil Service Commission, personal conversation). Even the apparent improvement that emerges in 2000 is still far below the levels witnessed prior to the hiring freeze. By May 2000, there were 50,000 applicants for 3,301 positions. Even if no more applications were received after May, only 6.6 percent of applicants can be accepted. However, the Federal Civil Service Commission expected an additional 50,000 ­ especially when those graduating in the fourth quarter of the year join the ranks of job seekers. If this proves to be the case, then the proportion of vacancies to applicants falls to 3 percent. Consequently, the bleak prospects of graduate employment in the federal civil service at this time are clear. State and local governments, two other sources of public sector employment, do not offer any reprieve. The best evidence in support of this conclusion comes from a study of state and local government employment from four states and the federal capital territory of Abuja (FGNNMB, 1998b ). The total number of state and local government employees is shown in Table 13. These states represent four major zones in the country. According to the surveys, only 4.4 percent of the employees surveyed had pursued higher education, where the later includes both university graduates and higher national diploma holders. Of these, just 1.5 percent hold university degrees. From the raw numbers, this translates to 1,167 individuals with university education or 233 per state. Since there are 31 states in the federation, this could imply that, on average, 7,223 graduates would be working for local governments.


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Table 13. Employment in Local Government Areas

State Abuja Bauchi Niger Imo Ondo TOTAL Source: FGN-NMB (1998b). LGA denotes Local Government Areas. No. of LGAs 4 23 19 21 26 No. of LGAs Surveyed 4 23 19 21 26 No. of Responding LGAs 4 23 19 21 26 No. of Employees 3,149 30,493 22,984 8,837 12,403 77,866

An alternative method of estimating the absorption of graduates into local government employment is to track vacancies and job offers at the local level. According to the survey (FGN-NMB, 1998b ), local governments that were audited were asked to project their new staff requirements for the period 1996 1998. The Local Government Areas included in the study expected to recruit 17, 797 more workers. Of this total, 13.2 percent were for senior positions, which are the posts that university graduates are expected to fill. Assuming that all of these posts were filled by graduates only, this would mean that each state would absorb 462 graduates in three years, which add to a total of 14,322 for the whole federation. Note, however, that in those three years (1996 - 1998), the estimated supply of graduates entering the labor market was 1440597 . Since we know from Table 12 that only 650 of these


graduates were hired into the federal civil service during that period because of the hiring freeze, almost 129,000 of the remainder would have had to find jobs in a depressed private sector, or become selfemployed.

Private Sector and Self-employment

A fairly reasonable estimate of public sector absorption of graduates can be obtained as demonstrated above because several relevant studies plus a recent audit of the federal and local government employment levels were available. Data on graduate employment in the private sector and in self-employment are exceedingly rare. The little data available regarding private sector share of graduate employment come from tracer studies. 8 A review of labor market research in Nigeria leads to two consistent observations concerning graduate employment in the private sector. First, the share of graduate employment in the private sector, both historically and at


The projections are based on the following. We know total labor market entrants from federal universities for years 95/96 and 96/97 are 48243 and 47339 respectively (Table 6). We projected the output for 97/98 by using an average growth of graduate output in the 1990s, which from Table 6 is 2.4 percent.

Tracer studies in this context refer to follow-on surveys and analysis of the performance of past cohorts of graduates in the labor market.


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present, has been smaller than in the share of the public sector. Second, the share of graduates finding jobs in the public sector has fallen drastically relative to the private and self-employment sectors. Tracer studies of university graduates provide the evidence for both observations. A tracer study of graduates of the University of Benin found that only 33 percent of the sampled respondents worked in the private sector (OMOIFO, BADMUS AND AWANBOR: 1998), while just 8 percent were self-employed. However the private sector share in this study was higher than the share reported by a similar study from 1984 in which only 27 percent of the sampled respondents worked in the private sector (FGN: 1986 ). This rising share of graduate employment in the private sector uptake of graduates must be understood within an overall environment in which employment in the public sector ­ traditionally a strong employer of graduates ­ has diminished enormously. For example, the University of Benin tracer study showed that whereas 58 percent of all graduates surveyed worked in the public sector, only 36 percent of the more recent graduates (those who graduated in the 1990s) had found jobs in the public sector.

So Where Are the Recent Graduates ?

(2000) for which data are available, only 7 percent of these graduates (i.e., 3600 ) are likely to be absorbed into the federal civil service ­ and even this share has to be understood as the upper bound. The evidence from recent tracer studies and past manpower surveys indicate that the formal private sector absorbs at most another 40 percent. In fact, judging from the state of Nigerian economy over the past five years, this figure may be optimistic. Because the economy has not been growing, many firms have not been hiring. That said, suppose nevertheless that 40 percent is a good estimate of the private sector absorption rate. It means that an additional 20,400 graduates found employment in this sector. From the total of 51,000 graduates, these calculations suggest that only 24,000 found jobs in the federal and private sectors. Some of the remaining 27,000 will be employed by state and local government civil services. Table 13 shows that average projections through the year 1998 placed these numbers at around 7,000 annually. So what happens to the remaining 20,000 graduates? Most observers of labor market conditions in Nigeria would agree that the remaining fraction ­ 39 percent of the total ­ is either unemployed or self-employed. Since unemployment is very costly in the absence of unemployment insurance, it seems probable that increasing numbers of graduates are entering the selfemployment sector. For many of them, the choice is not voluntary (ADEJUNMOBI 1991; ONI 1994, 1996; AKERELE 1997). These bleak prospects for graduate employment have caught the attention of policymakers as well as media commentators. In fact, the situation is almost certainly worse than the numbers

This answer to this question can be guessed by doing a simple "back of the envelop" calculation. Consider that some 51,000 graduates are supplied to the labor market from all federal government universities 9 . Going by the latest year


This number refers to the expected graduate output in year 2000 assuming that the growth rate is 2.4 percent per year as implied for the 1990s in Table 6. If a higher growth averaging the 1980s and 1990s (4.3%) is used, the output would be higher.


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indicate because graduates from the 16 state universities have not been taken into account. Whatever the true numbers may be, it is hard to ignore recent studies that report high unemployment rates among graduates. One of these is a tracer study

in which just 51 percent of those who graduated in 1994/95 (one to two years prior to the survey) claimed to have been employed in contrast to an overall graduate employment rate of 80 percent for all respondents to this particular study (OMOIFO, BADMUS, AND AWANBOR 1998 ).

Table 14. Advertised Job Openings in the Nigerian Economy, 1991 - 1999

Sub-sector 1st Quarter 1991 1st Quarter 1993 1st Quarter 1994 1st Quarter 1996 1st Quarter 1997 1st Quarter 1998 1st Quarter 1999 Tota l 1991 1999 902 415 895 719 439 277 100 72 955 4774 %

Engineering Computer Services Administratiion Accounting Marketing Education Insurance Agriculture Health Total

191 97 176 147 132 96 30 34 165 1068

18 9 16 14 12 9 3 3 15 100

267 79 159 173 90 71 40 23 245 1147

23 7 14 15 8 6 4 2 21 100

136 52 249 139 84 74 17 1 93 845

16 6 30 16 10 9 2 0 11 100

118 19 109 44 61 10 6 4 18 389

30 5 28 11 16 3 2 1 5 100

65 61 68 87 67 5 5 4 13 375

17 16 18 23 18 1 1 1 4 100

53 35 61 49 51 20 2 -31 302

18 12 20 16 17 7 1 -10 100

72 72 73 80 9 1 2 6 390 703

10 10 10 11 1 0 0 1 56 100

19 9 19 15 9 6 2 2 20 100

Source: Labour Market Quarterly Report, NISER, Ibadan

The estimate above is also consistent with the recent labor market studies that report 22 percent of the graduates surveyed as unemployed ( FGN-NMB 1998a ).

The Demand for Critical Skills

For a decade, the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER) in Ibadan has monitored advertised job

openings in the Nigerian economy. While the Institute recognizes that many job vacancies are usually filled without advertisement, the information presented in Table 14 shows the pattern of vacancies in the various professions between the January to March quarter in 1991 and 1999.10


In the process of tabulation, efforts were made to avoid multiple counting where employers had advertised in more than one mediu m.


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The Institute kept a record of announced vacancies for high level skills in nine major sub-sectors of the economy. During the entire period, the largest number of advertised job openings were in the health sub-sector (20%). This was followed closely by engineering (19%), administration (19%) and accounting (15%). Other sub-sectors with relatively fewer vacancies were marketing (9%), computer services (9%), education (6%), insurance (2%) and agriculture (1%). The higher number of advertised vacancies in the health sub-sector is a recent phenomenon. Vacancies rose sharply only in the final year of the period and prior to that the reported vacancies in health were very small. Yet the sudden rise in demand for health workers should not be surprising. The appearance of HIV/AIDS as a national concern would lead to demand for more trained medical personnel. The high number of job vacancy advertisements in the health subsector may well have reflected the government's aggressive policy with respect to the spread of HIV/AIDS which was viewed as a national threat. All levels of government as well as private sector and non-government organizations have been mobilized against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Such a response could explain the dramatic rise in the demand for doctors, nurses, health technologists and other paramedics during the final year of the survey. Moreover, towards the end of the decade university enrollments in medical sciences were beginning to decline. As shown in Table 8b, only 7 percent of total students were enrolled in the medical sciences in 1997 whereas a few years prior the proportion had been 9 percent.

In contrast, the NISER survey indicates that the vacancy advertisements for engineering and accounting have remained consistently high. Annual job announcements deviated very little from the decade average, particularly in engineering. In accounting as well, the year-to-year rates were more steady than in health. The computer services subsector is one of the few (together with health) where the share of vacancies has gone up. Unlike the health sub-sector, however, computer services have had a sustained growth in vacancy announcements for a much longer period. The important question is what this employment vacancy information tells us. In the absence of more detailed labor demand research, this indicator provides some insight concerning the patterns of labor demand. In ideal labor market conditions, all firms will announce their vacancies and it would then be possible to know total demand for the year. Usually, however, vacancies are posted by firms for those positions they fail to fill by other methods (referrals, internal promotion, poaching, etc.). From this perspective, the NISER data indicate that towards the end of the 1990s, the demand for skills in computer and medical sciences rose relative to other skills. In engineering and accounting, all indications are that the demand remains steady. In view of the fact that current government policy is to promote a private sector- led economy, the demand for engineering, accounting and related skills seems likely to expand. This has direct implications for the mix of graduate skills that universities should produce for the labor market.


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Employers' Assessment Graduates in the Market Place


From the analysis above, a large mismatch appears to exist between university output and labor market demand. The same analysis shows that the employment prospects of recent graduates have clearly deteriorated. Without doubt, the main reason for these poor employment conditions is the weak performance of the Nigerian economy. But there are two reasons why an economy would perform badly. One is the policy environment, which in this case includes the institutions that structure incentives to reward investment in productive assets. The second reason is an inadequate level and quality of inputs that businesses in the economy employ. One vital input is skilled human resources, especially the quality of the university trained portion of the work force. Widespread agreement exists that the policy environment for economic growth in Nigeria has not been favorable for many years. A discussion of why this has been the case is not a the subject of the present investigation. However, the second variable ­ the quality of skilled labor ­ is germane and has exacerbated shortcomings in the policy sphere. The above analysis demonstrates an abundance of university trained labor. As shown, many more university graduates are produced than the economy can absorb. This results in a high graduate unemployment rate of 22 percent in many metropolitan areas. Because so many people in whom the public resources have been i vested are idle or unproductively n utilized, the social costs to the nation, measured in terms of lost productivity, are 21

enormous. But this is not where the social costs end. Even among the university graduates that are able to find work, employers express major reservations concerning the quality of their education. Evaluation of the quality of university graduates is based mainly on a series of questions put to major employers of Nigerian graduates. These questions asked employers to assess graduates' level of preparation and performance on the job. The most worrisome feedback from these interviews with employers of Nigerian graduates is just how serious quality deterioration has become. Employers widely agree on three points with regard to the quality decline in higher education. (A list of employers interviewed is provided in Attachment 2). ? Quality deterioration is accelerating. Many employers observe that the quality of university graduates has worsened during the 1990s. Moreover, they believe that the decline in quality levels is actually increasing rather than leveling off. This sentiment is shared by both regional employers and major multinational corporations. A major employer in the telecommunication sector confesses that "some recent graduates do not have even basic skills." Others state that "the last well-trained corps of Nigerian graduates left the system in the mid-1980s." The perception of deteriorating quality is supported by tracer studies. For example, interviewed cohorts in a recent tracer study of graduates of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, gave a lower rating to the "reputation of the university" than previous cohorts. More generally, they readily expressed their belief that the quality of university education has fallen (ANYANWU AND ILOEJE: 1998 ). In a

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similar study of the University of Benin graduates, those who graduated in the 1980s gave more favorable ratings to questions regarding availability of study resources than those who graduated in the 1990s. In particular, older cohorts awarded higher scores to questions on opportunities to undertake research, participate in supervised work experience, and have access to technical and laboratory resources ( UGWUONAH AND OMEJE: 1998). ? Quality deterioration is of particular concern in key skill areas. Beyond their general agreement regarding falling standards of university education, many employers cited key skill areas as particularly worrying. Two of these skills were communication and technical proficiency. Poor abilities in the oral and written expression of English were mentioned almost like a chorus. Inadequate preparation in the English language was especially noted by newspapers and businesses where regular report writing is required. As an illustration of the depth of poor English proficiency, one banker told us that he "cannot get five correctly crafted sentences in one paragraph from recent university graduates." He added that some graduates who were recruited as senior managers "cannot write a memo of three paragraphs." Similar frustrations were expressed by editors of newspapers. In assessing interns in mass communications, a newspaper editor lamented, "sometimes you ask students to prepare a report, and you almost have to ask them to re-do it." The other skill area of great concern to employers is the technical preparation of graduates. Although many employers confirm that the graduates possess a broad and respectable understanding of the 22

knowledge base in technical disciplines, they expressed disappointment with the preparation of the graduates in those applied technical skills necessary for solving problems and enhancing business productivity. A large multinational manufacturing employer characterized the universities as emphasizing "too much theory and too little practical training." The respondent of another manufacturing firm talked of graduates' unfamiliarity with the basic manufacturing processes essential for its business. Other firms repeatedly shared with us the fact that many recently hired graduates were unfamiliar with computers or the tools that the company uses in production. Employers often stated that graduates had not been exposed to equipment used in the workplace ­ even when such equipment is quite conventional. Graduates w also ere reported incapable of technical solutions to routine problems as expected of individuals with their levels of training. As a consequence, a number of firms, especially larger ones with some investment capital, put their recruits through intensive post-employment training to prepare them for their responsibilities in the work place. The problem of inadequate technical preparation among graduates is echoed by the tracer studies. When graduates of universities in Anambra and Enugu states working in manufacturing businesses were asked to assess the adequacy of university efforts in preparing them for their work, many graduates rated them as poor. Notably, the strongest negative evaluations were expressed by science and engineering graduates ( GWUONAH AND U OMEJE: 1998). Among graduates in Engineering and Management Science, 60 percent stated

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that they used the general principles of what they learnt at the university in their work. Beyond that, the ratings were less favorable. In particular, graduates rated the practical aspects of their education very poorly. Graduates in systems analysis and in electronic data processing were especially critical of their training. These findings illustrate the wide gap that exists between what is taught in the universities and what the world of work requires. Interestingly, the graduates of polytechnics assigned more favorable grading to "use of knowledge acquired during study to my work," than university graduates. This observation was corroborated by employers. In another tracer study, graduates of the University of Benin rated supervised practical work and quality of academic advice received as very poor. Among graduates of Medicine and Sciences, only 29 percent rate equipment, laboratories and workshops as very good. On the whole, most graduates felt that teaching facilities and infrastructure were the worst aspects of the university environment. The subsequent worst aspects of the educational environment were staff qualifications and living conditions (OMOIFO, BADMUS AND AWANBOR: 1998 ). ? Poor quality staff produce poor quality graduates. Although most employers are unhappy with the quality of graduate output from the federal universities, they are well aware of the causes. Many employers are quick to state that the quality of the graduates is simply a reflection of the quality of academic staff, learning resources (libraries, laboratories, etc.), and funding limitations.

The problems of staff quality are seen to be severe. A solution to them is viewed as critical to any improvement in the quality of university graduates. The decline of staff quality is reflected in the high rates of "brain drain," the declining numbers of professors and assistant professors within the university system, and their falling levels of post- graduate preparation. In addition, as student enrollments have doubled, the numbers of qualified instructors have not kept pace. As a result, staff/student ratios have worsened to the detriment of student learning. Poor quality of graduates is also caused by a shortage of learning resources. Many university libraries are reported to hold out of date collections. One respondent for a manufacturing firm noted that even the instructors from some of the local universities whose graduates they recruit do not have copies of basic texts that are available in the corporate library and essential reading for the engineering processes used by the firm. Employers admit that a disproportionate share of university problems stem from inadequate financing. Because the federal government provides nearly all of the universities' budgetary requirements, the financial stability of the universities is tied to the fiscal fortunes of the state. Unfortunately, in the last two decades the federal budget has not been stable. This is because it is tied very closely to oil revenues, whose terms of trade in those two decades have experienced a lot of instability. The consequences of unstable funding of the universities are reflected in poorly equipped laboratories, outdated libraries, poorly remunerated staff, and crumbling academic facilities.


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Employer Views in Key Areas

Conclusion A national debate about how and what to reform in university education is underway in Nigeria. At present, there is widespread agreement on the broad outlines of the causes of declining quality of education. They include (a) inadequate financing, (b) insufficient and irrelevant learning materials, including old and outdated equipment, books and journals, (c) poorly-paid and trained academic staff, (d) outmoded and inflexible managerial structures, (e) unplanned expansion of enrollment leading to oversupply of graduates, and (e) irrelevant curriculum. This study has emphasized that a serious disconnect exists between university training and the needs of the labor market. This mismatch has been and continues to be socially costly to Nigeria. The large numbers of unemployable graduates and the low productivity of those who find work reflects a poor social return on the investment. The tragedy is that while the causes of low quality of university education and its consequences are readily acknowledged, there are no mechanisms in place to address them. Yet university education in Nigeria cannot go on in its present status. It is inevitable that the hard choices that lie ahead must be faced in order to improve quality of teaching and learning and reduce the social costs.

Comments by employers of graduates in key skill areas are summarized in Attachment 1. A reading of the comments finds two persistent themes. First, under current economic conditions, the main problem facing employers in Nigeria is not a lack of skilled labor but a shortage of good quality skilled labor. It should be clear by now that skilled labor refers to persons holding diplomas and degrees from polytechnics and universities respectively. Second, because the sale of products and services is very sensitive to quality in critical skill areas such as medicine and computing, and because the labor market is inundated with poor quality graduates, employers in these fields undertake long and expensive recruiting and training processes in order to maintain their service standards. Numerous firms expend a great deal of money and effort to re-train fresh graduates just to maintain the quality of their products and services. An illustrative but possibly extreme case is that of Shell Petroleum, which spends $12,000 per trainee per year. The necessity of post-employment remedial training is proving to be very costly to businesses because the inefficiencies of the universities are transferred to businesses and to the national economy as a whole.


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Abalaka, J. A. et. al. (eds.) 1989. The Role of Universities in National Economic Recovery. The Proceedings of the 12th Annual Seminar of Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, March. Adejunmobi, A. 1991. Coping Strategies for Survival Among Unemployed Nigerian Graduates. Monograph No.12. Ibadan: Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER). Akaninwor, G.I.K. 1994. "The Problems of Skills Acquisition Programme in Technical Manpower Development in Nigeria," Studies in Educational Evaluation, vol. 20, pp. 219221. Akerele, W.O. 1997. The Effect of Economic Adjustment on Employment in the Urban Informal Sector of Ibadan City. Monograph Series No. 3. Ibadan: Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER). Akinbo, R. A. 1996. The Impact of Structural Adjustment on Educational Development in Ondo State, Nigeria: 1980-1992. Ph.D. Dissertation, United Kingdom. Anyanwu, J.C. 1998. "Education and Economic Growth in Nigeria, 1980-1994," Indian Journal of Economics, 78:310, pp. 409-421. Anyanwu, G. A. and I. C. Iloeje. 1996. Graduates Employment Survey: A Tracer Study of the Graduates of the Faculties of Arts, Agriculture and Education of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Department of Home Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Cresswell, J. 1995. Nigerian University Graduates and the Marketplace. Unpublished report. Washington, D.C: World Bank. Development Policy Centre. 1999. Nigeria: The Challenger of Job Creation. Policy Brief No. 6, November, Policy Articulation Network (PA -NET), Ibadan, Nigeria. Federal Republic of Nigeria. 1997. National Employment Policy Framework. ILO/East Africa Multidisciplinary Advisory Team. Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia. Federal Government of Nigeria. 1999. Annual Reports of the Federal Civil Service Commission (various issues 1994-1997). Lagos, Nigeria: Federal Government Printer,.


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Federal Government of Nigeria: National Manpower Board. 1986. 1984 Graduate Employment Tracer Study. Lagos, Nigeria. Federal Government of Nigeria: National Manpower Board. 1986a. Report of a Study of Nigeria's Manpower Stock and Requirements, Lagos, Nigeria. Federal Government of Nigeria: National Manpower Board. 1991. Report of a Study of Nigeria's Manpower Stock and Requirements. Lagos, Nigeria. Federal Government of Nigeria: National Manpower Board. 1998a. The Study of Nigerian Labor Market: Phase One - Lagos State. Manpower Studies No. 30. Abuja, Nigeria. Federal Government of Nigeria: National Manpower Board. 1998b. Manpower Profile of Local Governments in Nigeria, 1995 (Selected States). Manpower Studies No. 31. Abuja, Nigeria. Federal Ministry of Education. 1989. Development of Education 1986 ­ 1988: National Report on Nigeria. International Conference on Education, 41st Session (Geneva). Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO. Lagos, Nigeria. Federal Office of Statistics. 1997. Annual Abstract of Statistics. Abuja, Nigeria. Hartnett, T. 2000: Financing Trends and Expenditure Patterns in Nigerian Federal Universities: An Update, Unpublished Report, Washington, D.C.: The World Bank Hartnett, T. and P.O. Omoregie. 1995. Financing Trends and Expenditure Patterns in Nigerian Universities. Unpublished Report. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Imoisili, I.C. 1996. "Quantity Without Quality: The Dilemma of Our Educational System." Address to the Meeting of the Training and Education Committee of NECA. May, Mbipom, G. 1995. "Returns to Tertiary Education in a Developing Economy: A Specific Case Study," Higher Education Policy, 8:1, pp. 36 - 39. National Concord, Thursday, December 15, 1983, p.2. NDE. 1997. National Directorate of Employment, Annual Report, Abuja, Nigeria. NDE. 1996. National Directorate of Employment, Annual Report, Abuja, Nigeria. NDE. 1995. National Directorate of Employment, Annual Report, Abuja, Nigeria. Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA). 1996. Memorandum Presented to the Government Committee on the Future of Higher Education in Nigeria. Nigerian Tribune, February 22, 1975, pp. 1 & 12. 26

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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

NISER. 1991. Production and Utilization of Middle and High Level Manpower in Nigeria. Report submitted to the Commission on the Review of Higher Education in Nigeria. Ojehomon, A.O. and Ayeni, P.M. (eds.). 1971. Universities and Industry: Partners in Progress. Proceedings of a Symposium. Benin City: Institute of Technology. Okwoli, U. et al. 1992. "Travails of Unemployed Graduates" The Guardian. Tuesday, December 1. Oladeji, S.I. 1992. Absorption of Educated Manpower into the Nigeria's Informal Sector. National Manpower Board Dia gnostic Study Series. Omoifo, C. N., G. A. Badmus and D. Awanbor. 1997. Education and Achievement in the Early Career of the University of Benin Graduates. Report of 1996 University of Benin Graduate's Survey. Faculty of Education, University of Benin. Benin City, Nigeria. Oni, B. 2000. "The Demand for University Graduates and Employers' Assessment of Graduate Skills in Nigeria." Draft. Ibadan: NISER. Oni, B. 1999. The Nigerian University Today and the Challenges of the 21st Century, Bremen Institute of World Economics and International Management (IWIM). Monograph No. 60. Germany. Oni, B. 1996. "The Informal Sector in Nigeria: Its Features, Role and Opportunities for Employment Creation" in Oni, B. (ed.). Proceedings and Technical Report of the Policy Awareness Workshop of the Role of the Informal Sector in the Nigerian Economy, Ibadan, pp. 40 ­ 52. Oni, B. 1994. "SAP and the Informal Sector in Nigeria: A Case of Increasing Employment" in Fashoyin, T. (ed.), Economic Reform Policies and the Labour Market in Nigeria. Lagos: Friedreich Ebert Foundation/NIRA, pp. 84 - 102. Oni, B. 1993. Framework for Strengthening Manpower and Employment Planning in Nigeria. International Labor Organization. Oni, B. 1989. "Meritocracy Versus Federal Cha racter Principle: An Evaluation of PostSecondary Technical Institutions Admission Policy in Oyo State," in Ekeh, P.P. and Osaghae, E.E. (eds.), Federal Character and Federalism in Nigeria. Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books (Nigeria) Ltd. Oni, B. 1988. "Management of Unemployment in Nigeria Under the Structural Adjustment Programme" in Oni, B. (ed.). Proceedings of the National Planning Project, Phase 1. December, pp. 73 - 88. Oni, B. 1987. "Graduate Unemployment and the Demand for Postgraduate Education in Nigeria: Case Study of Lagos and Ibadan Universities." Ibadan: NISER Research Report. 27

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UNESCO-WER. 2000. The Right to Education: Towards Education for All throughout Life. World Education Report. Paris: UNESCO. UNESCO. 1999. Statistical Yearbook. Paris. Ugwuonah, G.E. and K. C. Omeje. 1998. Higher Education and the Demand for Manpower Development in the Nigerian Manufacturing Sector: An Empirical Study of Enugu and Anambra States. Final Report of Tracer Study Research Project on Higher Education and Work. Accra, Ghana: Association of African Universities. World Bank. 1994. Higher Education: The Lessons of Experience. Washington, D.C. Yesufu, T.M. 1988. "Manpower Planning in Nigeria: The Unresolved Issues." in Oni B. (ed.), Proceedings of the National Seminar on Manpower Planning. Nigeria/ILO/UNDP Manpower Planning Project, pp. 6 - 23.


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Table 8a. Total Student Enrollment by Academic Discipline and Year

Discipline 80/81 ADMIN AGRIC ARTS EDUC ENG/TEC ENV. LAW MED PHARM SCIENCE SOC. SCI VETMED Total 3947 4332 81/82 3693 4596 82/83 5425 5412 83/84 6327 5984 84/85 6346 7024 86/87 7156 6609 87/88 7240 6927 88/89 6503 8193 89/90 5809 90/91 8886 91/92 12274 12062 21863 29161 17557 5380 8752 13938 2716 34989 28037 1643 92/93 10556 11089 21483 26704 19371 6630 8247 15139 4153 34497 23948 1685 93/94 12674 12170 22646 31012 22080 7763 9765 17118 5003 41504 21463 2084 94/95 95/96* 96/97 97/98 11790 12525 15339 15534 12765 14925 15862 18973 22981 21976 24459 23515 30544 30133 31305 40791 23767 27793 29370 47132 7885 9548 9663 8847 10516 11524 11317 12381 18304 19962 20842 20986 5420 5786 4663 4728 41823 47728 49221 53828 25164 28077 29754 43012 2558 2742 2313 2039

9819 10944

10322 12518 13236 15016 15743 16346 16995 17351 17948 19812 14476 16430 18594 19077 20685 19201 21459 18311 18741 24318 4975 2106 3704 6485 1462 5360 2810 4652 7503 1620 5998 3249 5379 8061 1752 7307 3552 5872 8540 1730 8358 10894 11914 12102 12939 14801 3735 5807 8857 1811 4227 7209 1995 4463 7466 1994 3982 6424 2109 4194 6197 2290 4837 7002 2661

9704 11615 10091 10594 12032

9405 11531 13192 13273 14824 16654 19023 20657 22510 27676 9540 11440 13610 13984 14862 15572 15689 16573 17850 21621 581 757 937 1030 994 1292 1313 1306 1403 1528 71335 82910 94845 101692 109046 116859 126098 123602 130294 156118

18372 183502 205282 213517 232719 244108 291766

Adapted from TABLE 1A, Major disciplines and student enrollment in Academic Discipline 95-97 adapted from NUC Annual Report for 96 & 97, Tables 2 & 3

Table 8b. Percentage Distribution of Enrollment by Discipline and Year

Discipline 80/81 81/82 82/83 83/84 84/85 86/87 87/88 88/89 89/90 90/91 91/92 92/93 93/94 94/95 95/96 96/97 97/98

Enrolment 71335 82910 94845 101692 109046 116859 126098 123602 130294 156118 188372 183502 205282 213517 232719 244108 291766 ADMIN AGRIC ARTS EDUC ENV. LAW MED PHARM 5.6% 6.1% 4.5% 5.6% 5.8% 5.8% 6.3% 5.9% 5.9% 6.5% 6.2% 5.7% 5.8% 5.5% 5.3% 6.7% 4.5% 7.6% 5.7% 7.1% 6.6% 6.5% 5.8% 6.1% 11.8% 14.6% 10.6% 3.7% 4.5% 8.3% 2.3% 18.8% 13.1% 1.0% 6.2% 6.0% 11.1% 15.2% 10.8% 3.8% 4.8% 8.4% 2.5% 20.3% 10.5% 1.1% 5.6% 6.0% 10.8% 5.4% 6.5% 6.3% 6.5% 5.4% 6.6%

14.5% 15.1% 14.0% 14.8% 14.5% 14.0% 13.5% 14.1% 13.8% 12.7% 11.7% 20.3% 19.9% 19.7% 18.8% 19.0% 16.5% 17.1% 14.9% 14.4% 15.6% 15.5% 6.5% 3.4% 5.7% 9.1% 2.0% 6.4% 3.5% 5.7% 8.5% 1.9% 7.2% 3.5% 5.8% 8.4% 1.8% 7.7% 3.5% 5.4% 8.2% 1.7% 9.4% 3.7% 6.2% 8.4% 1.8% 9.5% 3.6% 6.0% 9.3% 1.6% 9.8% 10.0% 9.5% 3.3% 5.2% 8.2% 1.8% 3.3% 4.8% 8.2% 1.8% 3.1% 4.5% 7.8% 1.8% 9.4% 2.9% 4.7% 7.4% 1.5% 3% 5.2% 9.1% 2.1%

9.5% 10.1% 8.1%

14.4% 13.0% 12.9% 14.0% 11.2% 12.0% 12.1% 16.2% 3.7% 5.0% 8.6% 2.6% 4.2% 5.0% 8.6% 2.5% 4.0% 4.7% 8.6% 2.0% 3.1% 4.3% 7.2% 1.7%

ENG/TEC 7.0%

SCIENCE 13.2% 14.0% 14.0% 13.1% 13.6% 14.3% 15.1% 16.8% 17.3% 17.8% 18.6% SOC. SCI 13.4% 13.8% 14.4% 13.8% 13.7% 13.4% 12.5% 13.5% 13.7% 13.9% 14.9% VET. MED 0.9% 1.0% 1.0% 1.1% 1.0% 1.2% 1.1% 1.1% 1.1% 1.0% 0.9%

19.6% 20.6% 20.2% 18.5% 11.8% 12.1% 12.2% 14.8% 1.2% 1.2% 1.0% 0.7%

Adapted from TABLE 1A, Major disciplines and student enrollment in Academic Discipline 95-97 adapted from NUC Annual Report for 96 & 97, Tables 2 & 3


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Attachment 1

Comments of Employers in Key Sub-Sectors

NECA: Employers Group

NECA finds that companie s are not recruiting but adopting employment protection strategies. They also asserted that very poor quality graduates do not meet the demands of industry. The deficiencies are in four critical skills: (a) communication; (b) technical; (c) conceptual/analytical; and (d) human interactive / social skills. NECA observes a poor link between theory and practice. To find a good recruit, the process is often long and expensive. Moreover, since re-training is almost always undertaken, this adds to operating costs. NECA is represented on Councils/Boards of National Board for Technical Education, therefore it makes policy suggestions to appropriate government bodies.

NIPM and NIM are not employers. They assist employers to recruit Nigerian Institute of qualified manpower and cater for the interest of members of their Institutes. Personnel Management (NIPM) Comments: Quality of graduates is on rapid decline. Graduates lack in all (a) to (d) skills mentioned above. Firms engage in long, tortuous and costly processes of recruitment. Management education has collapsed in the Nigerian Institute of country even at the Centre for Management, Development and Management (NIM) Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON). National Manpower Board is already moribund. Neglect of the education sector is the major cause of the problem of low quality graduates. Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) CIBN and ICAN are institutions in the banking and accounting professions. They influence and monitor the practice of banking and accounting. They also examine and award certificates recognized by law. Examination candidates are graduates of universities and polytechnics. Failure rate is very high. (See CIBN examination result, 1992 - 2000 in Tables 3.1 - 3.3). They find that new banks are recruiting. Among the recruits, University graduates perform better in theory questions while the polytechnic graduates do better in practice questions. However, university graduates do better than polytechnic graduates in aptitude tests. ICAN says products of OAU, Benin, Unilag, OSU, Yaba Tech, Ibadan Poly perform well in accounting examinations. They find graduates to have poor communication skills.


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN)

COREN maintains a register of engineers and monitors engineering practice. Annual registration of qualified young engineers is between 600 - 700. At least four years post qualification experience is required before registration. They believe that production of engineers is not enough in Nigeria. They also feel that Nigerian engineering education does not teach problem-solving skills. Although quality of engineering education is poor, engineering graduates are particularly wanting in technical and communication skills.


1. Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IART), Zaria. 2. Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (OAU), Ibadan. 3. International Instit ute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

All the three organizations recruit graduates in agriculture for research and training (M.Sc./Ph.D) depending on vacancies, research priorities). Out of the 82 graduates employed by IITA (1995 - 2000), 54 of them (i.e. 66%) were university graduates of different disciplines. The two IARTs recruitment is largely determined by funds availability. It is the opinion of the supervisors that the new graduates lack basic skill requirements for research and training. Consequently, they spend longer period on their research.


National Coal Corporation, Enugu

In addition to need, political considerations affect recruitment in this government managed sector. Demand is mainly for graduates in civil and mechanical engineering and geo-sciences. At present only one university (at Jos) offers courses in mining engineering. For many years now, the mining sector has been moribund, so that little recruitment has taken place. Moreover, many young and talented people do not want to take the risks that are posed by mining industry. Therefore, recruiting talent is very difficult. The few graduates who are hired have weak technical skills.


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Petroleum Industry

1.Mobil Oil Co. 2.Shell Nigeria PLC

The petroleum industry is a major employer of engineering and other science graduates. The demand in this industry is mainly for graduates with skills in geo-sciences, information technology, electronics/electrical engineering as well as physicists, chemists, and mathematicians. In 1998/99, Shell alone employed 132 out of 189 graduates that were accepted into its training programs. Most of the remaining 57 were accepted by other oil companies. To minimize the effect of poor graduate preparation on its operations, Shell runs an intensive training program in Warri. The training program runs for a year and is implemented by consultants from Europe and lecturers from Nigerian universities. Other oil companies, such as Mobil have similar programs although not in the same scale as Shell. Shell also participates in enhancing graduate quality through strengthening research capacity in the universities. It allows university lecturers to spend their sabbatical at the company. It also supports endowed chairs in engineering departments of 6 universities. The cost of this intervention is not cheap. Shell spends about $12,000 per year per trainee.

Oil Services Sector 1.Schlumberger ­ Port Harcourt 2.Halliburton - Port Harcourt

The oil services sector has a great demand for good electrical, mechanical, chemical engineers as well as physicists and computer science majors. The employers in this sector found the available talent satisfactory for their needs. This is because they have a large applicant pool from which they select the best. Between 1997-2000, Halliburton employed 500 HND and graduates with science degrees. However, in just one year, the corporation receives thousands of applicants. In the year 2000, it received 8000 applicants, from which 14 will be selected for training in the USA. Sending recruits for training is part of a larger strategy to improve the skills of incoming graduates. In addition to sending fresh recruits to the USA, the oil services sector (a) retains the most dedicated and promising talent attached to them through the National Youth Service (NYSC) program, and (b) send some of the recruits to the Shell Intensive Training Program at Warri for a year.


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Automotive Industry 1. Anambra Motor Company (ANAMCO), Enugu. 2. Peugeot Assembly Nigeria (PAN), Kaduna

ANAMCO and PAN recruit graduates in different ways. ANAMCO, has few managerial positions and the skills required for positions that open up are superior to those brought by fresh graduates. In many cases, the company takes on graduates through the National Service or direct recruitment from the labor market, and then retains those that prove to be hard working. By contrast, PAN puts its recruits through an aptitude test that has theoretical and practical components. Both companies find that polytechnic students on industrial attachment have relatively higher technical competence than university graduates. However, the quality is generally so bad that most recruits add no value to the company. However, Federal University of Technology at Owerri is known to have good mechanical and metallurgical engineering. The screening process is necessitated by what the employers see as unacceptably poor preparation of graduates for the world of work. In particular, PAN plans to in itiate a more intensive training program even for those who pass the aptitude test, to teach cutting-edge automotive engineering techniques that are unavailable from the university course loads. This program will start in October 2000 with 50 diploma- and degreeholding candidates, and each incoming group will be trained for one year.

Construction Dantata and Sawoe, Kano.

Construction companies recruit mainly graduates in surveying, civil and mechanical engineering. However, our discussion with a major construction company revealed that graduate recruitment is a function of the flow of construction contracts usually from the government As to the quality of graduates, the supervisors were not impressed by the average graduate, but they also acknowledged that their firm did not have a significant problem finding good engineers because the company always . selected the very best out of those who came for industrial training and national service. Once recruited, they are assigned to mentors--- supervisors for good on-the-job training..


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Other Engineering

The comments of several employers in different engineering fields are summarized below. NITEL is the largest of the engineering employers listed on the left. It employs graduates from various engineering fields (but especially electronics and electrical engineering), physics, computer science and other professions such as accounting and economics. As a government corporation, NITEL was subject to the employment freeze imposed on all public corporations between 1993 and 1998. Prior to that, it had only 287 engineers in a total workforce of 11, 6000. At the time of the interview, NITEL was planning to recruit 150 additional engineers and 50 computer scientists. This is partly to make up for the five year freeze, but also in part because the corporation wants to have more skilled workers as it begins to commercialize its operations. Apart from NITEL, most of the other firms were not major employers of engineers. The sub-sector with the least demand for engineers are tanneries, where the majority of the operations required basic literacy. Textile firms needed a bit more skills than tanneries but they find that ordinary diploma holders meet their skill requirements. Furthermore, polytechnics offer courses in Textile technology which universities do not. But even in the cases such as flour mills and allied food products where skills needed some university training, graduate demand was not very high for a number of reasons. In the case of NASCO, little recruitment occurred because the demand for its products was very low. During the times when the economy was not in recession the company faced the recruitment problem of a different kind--- many skilled young workers from the South were reluctant to work and live in Jos. In general, firms such as NASCO did not appear to have difficulty recruiting good and capable engineers during times of prosperity because they went after experienced and already well-trained engineers from other companies. They rarely employ fresh graduates because the quality of their training is not good. Still, even a firm like NASCO reported having trouble recruiting chemical engineers and food technologists. Among plastic manufacturers, their biggest problem is finding hydraulic engineers, as there are not enough of them in the market.

1. Northern Nigeria Flour Mills, Kano 2. NITEL, Abuja 3. NASCO, Jos 4. United Nigeria Textile, Kano 5. Raleigh Industries, Kano 6. Tanorth Tannery, Kano


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Accounting/Banking /Insurance

1. NCR 2. First Bank. 3. Bank of the North. 4. Akintola Williams Adetona Ischei (AWAI) & CO. 5. Price Waterhouse Cooper 6. AIICO Insurance 7. Hyman Robertson 8. Urban Development Bank, Abuja.

The main source of demand for graduates in accounting, banking, and insurance sector are firms engaged in financial services. However, other corporations such as NITEL also have a high demand for accountants and actuarial scientists. As an illustration, at the time of the interview, NITEL employed 336 accountants and planned to add another 100. Nor is it the case that only those trained in these fields are employed by firms offering accounting, banking and insurance services. In fact, some of the firms admitted that they recruited the best candidates regardless of their field of study. So NCR needed graduates in Mathematics, Statistics, Information Technology, Electrical Engineering and Business Administration, while Hyman Robertson sought those with Mathematics, Statistics, Actuary Science. Other major recruiters were First Bank, which employed 420 graduates and diploma holders and Price Waterhouse Cooper which employs at least 20 accountants each year. All these companies revealed the following: a) the quality of graduate train ing is low, b) recruitment process is long and time-consuming because the goal is to get the best graduates in any field who are trainable, and c) among public enterprises, political considerations in employment complicates the process of recruiting on merit.

Mass Media 1. New Nigerian Newspaper, Kano. 2. Triumph Newspaper, Kano. 3. Nigerian Tribune, Ibadan.

Newspaper houses recruit their staff from experienced freelance journalists in order to meet the standards of quality demanded by consumers. They all admit that fresh graduates generally lack the critical writing skills required of a journalist. However, all the newspaper houses take students on industrial attachment so they can learn to write better.


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Medical Services Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, (AKTH), Kano.

It was the sentiment of the doctors that the quality of medical training is deteriorating due to low funding, poor infrastructure (outdated and insufficient books and journals) and lack of motivation of lecturers. Consequently, current knowledge in medicine is simply not taught. In addition, when student to teacher ratio is 30:1 in a medical class, there are serious problems that arise in effective transfer of knowledge. The difficulty of teaching good medical practice also manifests itself in another way in many teaching hospitals. Since such hospitals are supposed to recover costs, many poor families do not seek service there. So the hospitals tend to have more and more students in an environment of decreasing patie nts. Such a situation is not conducive to individualized learning by trainee doctors (that is, students). As a case in point, AKTH has 300 beds with about 40% occupancy rate. Because of these problems, the doctors we interviewed point to the a widening gap in the quality of medical knowledge between current graduates and those trained prior to mid-1980s.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO)

Twenty-two (22) questionnaires purposely designed to collect data on the above were distributed to NGOs in Ibadan, Oyo State. Twenty (20) were retrieved. Analysis of the questionnaires shows that only 35 HND holders and 100 university degree holders were employed by the NGOs between 1990 and year 2000. The majority of graduates employed in the NGOs held degrees in the social sciences, business administration and banking as well as medical science than in any other field (see Oni (2000), Table 8). The main weakness of graduates in this sector are communication and technical skills. They also earn significantly less ( Naira 4,500 to 7,500 per month) than graduates in the public service.


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Attachment 2

List of Institutions and Individuals Consulted


National Universities Commission (NUC), Plot 430 Aguyi Ironsi Street, Maitama District, P.M.B. 237 Abuja. Professor Munzali Jibril, Executive Secretary. Professor Ignatius I. Uvah, Director, Academic Planning Department. Dr. (Mrs.) F.E. Ukeje, Deputy Director and Head of Resource Planning Division, Academic Planning Department. Dr. A. Sambo, Academic Planning. Dr. Ramon Yusuf, Academic Planning. Professor Bankole Oni, Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), NUC Consultant National Manpower Board (NMB), Plot 126, Cadastral Zone A3, Garki II, P.M.B. 355, Abuja Mr. Umunakwe. E. O. Anyanwu, Acting Executive Secretary. Mr. I.B. Ogundana, Deputy Director. Mr. M.K. Bolarinwa, Assistant Chief Manpower Officer. National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Plot 1529 Nouakchott Street, Zone 1 Wuse District, P.M.B. 104 Abuja. Alhaji A.G. Abubaka, Deputy Director. Federal Civil Service Commission Mr. M. Kalu, Division of Planning, Research and Statistics. Federal Commission on Wages and Incomes. Enugu State Civil Service Commission Mr. Martin Agada, Secretary Enugu State Local Service Commission, P.M.B. 1412 Independence Layout, Enugu Chief Sir N.E. Ogbu Nwobodo, Chairman Enugu State Chamber of Commerce and Industries, International Trade Fair Complex, Abakaliki Road, Box 734 Enugu Mr. Sam C. Nwaekehe, Director General


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Dr. Musa Bordo, Medical Director, Kano, Nigeria Institute of Agricutural Training, Samaru Professor Jacob V. Poh, Director Ahmadu Bello University, P.M.B. 1044, Zaria, Nigeria International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Mr. Afan Ohanwusi, Manager, Planning and Training, Ibadan, Nigeria


Bank of the North Limited Mr. Esthon V.H. Gapsisa, Assistant General Manager (HRDC), No. 11 Civic Center Road, P.O. Box 211 Kano, Nigeria. National Coal Corporation, 29 Okpara Avenue, P.M.B. 1053 Enugu, Enugu State. Mr. Z. Mustapha, Personnel Manager Enugu, Nigeria New Nigerian Newspapers Mr. Mohammed Jega, Acting Editor, Kaduna, Nigeria. Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd. (NITEL) Engr. E.C. Omeata, Executive Director, Corporate Administration. Triumph Newspapers Mr. Muktari Magaji Daily Editor Kano, Nigeria


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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Urban Development Bank, Abuja Mr. E.O.O. Mejule, General Manager.


AIICO Insurance, AIICO Plaza, 12 Afribank Street, Victoria Island, P.O. Box 2577 Lagos Mr. S. A. Oduroye Manager, Human Resources Lagos, Nigeria

Akintola Williams Adetona Ischei (AWAI) & Co., 1 Town Planning Way, Ilupeju, P.O. Box 965 Lagos Mr. V. G. Hammond Principal partner Mr. Olusegun A. Odubogun, Managing Director Lagos, Nigeria Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) Alhaji S. A. Raji, Deputy Registrar The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Plot 19, Adeola Hopewell Street, P.O. Box 72273, Victoria Island, Lagos. Dr. Uji M. Ogubunka Director of Training, Research and Consultancy Lagos, Nigeria Council for the Regulation of Engineering of Nigeria, 29 Onikoyi Road, Off Alexandria Avenue, Ikoyi Lagos. Evang. Olatunji O. Ayeni Deputy Registrar/Finance and Administration, Lagos, Nigeria Dantata and Sawoe Ltd. Mr. M.P. Jayachandra Kano, Nigeria


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First Bank of Nigeria Plc, 7th Floor 37 Marina, P.O. Box 5216, Lagos. Mr. J. A. Enadeghe Principal Manager, Manpower Planning and Career Development Lagos, Nigeria Gidan Hassan Plastics Industries Ltd Elder J.O. Aiyetan (JP) Director, Public Relations No. 1 Mai-Malari Road, P.O. Box 6461 Bompai Kano, Nigeria. Halliburton Corporation, Plot 158 Trans Amadi Industrial Layout, P.O> Box 462, Port Harcourt, River State Mr. Chris Offonkansi, Senior Human Resources Generalist Lagos, Nigeria Hymans Robertson , AIICO Plaza, Afribank Street, Victoria Island, P.O. 73599, Lagos Mr. Paul Odofin Consultant Lagos, Nigeria Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria, IPM House IPM Avenue, Ikeja Central Business District Alausa, Ikeja P.O. Box 5412 Lagos Mr. S. K. Korode, Registrar Lagos, Nigeria

Mobil Oil Corporation, Mobil House, 1 Lekki Expressway, P.M.B. 12054 Victoria Island, Lagos. Mr. R. Bayo Akinwale, Manager, Human Resources Lagos, Nigeria NASCO Management Services Ltd. Mr. V.A.V. Bhide, Group Co-ordinator No. 1 Ahmed Nasreddin Road, P.M.B. 2722, Jos, Nigeria NCR (Nigeria) Plc., 6 Broad Street, P.O. Box 509 Lagos Ms. Grace Titilope Adetunji Human Resources Consultant Lagos, Nigeria 40

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Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Nigerian Employers Consultative Association, Elephant Cement House (6th Floor), ASSBIFI Road, Central Business District Alausa, P.O. Box 2231, Marina Lagos. Mrs. H. J. Jemerigbe Director of Training and Consultancy, Lagos, Nigeria Mr. T. A. Abiodun Director, Industrial Relation and Legal Affairs Nigerian Institute of Management, Management House, Plot 22, Idowu Taylor Street, P.O. Box 2557 Victoria Island, Lagos. Mr. Isaac Ikem Ngwube, Director of Training, Research and Consultancy Lagos, Nigeria Nigerian Television Authority, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria island, Lagos. Mr. Jimmy F. Atte, Directorate of Programmes Lagos, Nigeria Northern Nigeria Flour Mills Alhaji Musa Kabara Senior Manager Administration/Personnel 13, Mai-Malari Road, Bompai P.O. Box 6007, Kano, Nigeria Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited Alhaji M.D. Abba, Deputy Managing Director Plot 1144, Mallam Kuibi Road, Kakuri Industrial Estate, P.M.B. 2266 Kaduna, Nigeria

Mr. Michael Obi Madubuko Assistant General Manager (Training and Development) Plot 1144, Mallam Kuibi Road, Kakuri Industrial Estate, P.M.B. 2266 Kaduna, Nigeria


Dabalen and Oni

Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Mercedes Benz Anamco, Emene Industrial Layout, P.M.B. 2523, Enugu Mr. Gabriel C. Ndu Assistant General Manager, Corporate Affairs Enugu, Nigeria Price Waterhouse Coopers, 26 Ajani Olujare Street, Alaka Estate, Surulere, P.O. Box 2419 Lagos. Mr. Uyi Akpata, Partner Lagos, Nigeria Raleigh Industries (Nigeria) plc Mr. Reuben A. Ogunpitan Managing Director 11/12 Mai-Malari Road Bompai Industrial estate P.O. Box 2043, Kano, Nigeria Schlumberger, Plot 161 Trans Amadi Industrial Layout, P.O. Box 564, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Mr. Shekhar Patel Business Analyst Port Harcourt, Nigeria Shell Petroleum Development Company (Nigeria). Mr. G. Nedo Osayande Coordinator, Corporate Technology R& D., Eastern Division, P.O. Box 263, Port Harcourt, Nigeria Mr. E. O. Etomi Team Leader, Corporate Recruitment, Eastern Division, P.O. Box 263, Port Harcourt, Nigeria Mr. D. S. Ikhile Esq. Advisor, Graduate Programme Registry and Logistics, P.O. Box 230, Warri, Nigeria Mr. Basil Okeke, Head, Treasury Services, Freeman House, 21/22 Marina P.M.B. 2418 Lagos, Nigeria 42

Dabalen and Oni

Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria

Tanorth Tannery Limited Mr. Francis Olumoye Gbaiyero Ojemu Manager, Administration/Personnel, Plot No. 70, Sharada Phase III, P.O. Box 2470 Kano, Nigeria United Nigeria Textiles plc Mr. A.S. Yusha'u P.O. Box 365 Kaduna, Nigeria West African Portland Cement, Elephant Cement House, Asabifi Road, Ikeja Central Business District, Alausa, P.O. 1001 Ikeja, Lagos. Mr. Dele Dada General Manage r, Human Resources Lagos, Nigeria



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