Entrepreneurship schooling and the conundrum of unemployment | The Guardian Nigeria Information

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Around 2006, entrepreneurship education was officially introduced in Nigerian universities. The introduction was greeted with high hopes and high expectations. The response was not inappropriate, as Nigerians believed that if students received an entrepreneurship education could curb unemployment in the country. Over a decade after business education was introduced in the country’s higher education centers, the problem of unemployment still seems to be scratching the surface. Indeed, the puzzle of unemployment seems to have gotten worse!

The latest unemployment statistics published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that the number of people of working or working age (15-64 years old) was 122,049,400 in the fourth quarter of 2020. That is 4.3% more than in the second quarter of 2020 of 116,871,186. In fact, the unemployment rate was 33.3% for the period, up from 27.1% in Q2 2020. This is confirmation that the challenge is not easing. One wonders, then, how effective has entrepreneurship education been in our universities? Do the trainers of such training have what it takes to impart the necessary knowledge? How industry-compliant or compliant with the 21st century is the entrepreneurial education curriculum in our country?

While the questions raised above need to be answered, it is imperative to focus on the motive and goals of introducing entrepreneurship education at the state’s universities. The available literature mentions the following goals of entrepreneurship training:
1. Give graduates the skills necessary to turn them into creativity.
2. Offer small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to recruit graduates with relevant business enterprise management skills.
3. Provide graduates with sufficient educational skills that will enable them to meet society’s labor needs.
4. Provide adequate risk management training for graduates due to the uncertain business environment.
5. Promoting industrial and economic growth in rural and less developed areas.
6. Provide functional education for young people that enables them to be self-reliant and self-reliant.
7. Provide appropriate training for young graduates that will enable them to be creative and innovative in identifying new business opportunities.
8. Serve as a catalyst for economic growth and development.
9. Reducing high unemployment, underemployment and poverty among young graduates.
10. Reducing rural-urban migration of young university graduates.
11. Provide the young college graduates with adequate training and support to enable them to build careers in small and medium-sized businesses.

The goals make it crystal clear that part of the reasons for entrepreneurship training is to reduce high unemployment, underemployment and poverty among young college graduates and to serve as a catalyst for economic growth and development! It is ironic, however, that unemployment in the country has apparently hit an all-time high instead of meeting the lofty goals! In fact, many who claim to be employed are actually underemployed. This challenge has therefore spawned accompanying vices such as banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, and others. Then what could be wrong with this laudable idea? Could it be that we misunderstood abinitio? I would like to believe that the foundation must have been shaky, because my results show that actually lecturers from different departments were originally called in to teach entrepreneurship. While this may not be entirely wrong, such instructors should have been introduced to global best practices in entrepreneurship. After all, nobody can give what they don’t have. It is a case of ‘If the foundation is broken, what can the righteous do?’ She was not awarded the seriousness of the training initially required.

Although Entrepreneurship Studies Institutes have emerged with the establishment of formal structures over time, not much has been achieved as students are still receiving professional training rather than scalable skills. What we see in most entrepreneurship laboratories in Nigeria’s universities are, among other things, training courses on “soap making”, “sewing”, “fish farming”. Undoubtedly, this is an improvement on the initial theory-based entrepreneurship education, but much remains to be done if the education is useful for graduate / youth in Nigeria. Soft skills such as problem solving and critical thinking should be embedded in entrepreneurship training. This is important as entrepreneurs don’t necessarily have to have their own business, but are creatively innovative to solve problems wherever they are – a paid job or their own business. Unfortunately, entrepreneurship education doesn’t do this the way it’s supposed to.

The approach (s) to entrepreneurship education need to change. The starting point is aligning the curriculum with the myriad problems that plague our society. The curriculum must be tailored to solve such problems. Those teaching the contents of the curriculum need to be trained and retrained. In fact, we need more practice professors as they are available in some advanced countries. In fact, a lecturer whose research cannot solve a problem in society cannot teach anyone how to solve societal problems. We need to change the way we do things in the moment if we need to get different results.

It must be added that entrepreneurship requires a concerted effort, as does entrepreneurship education. Institutes of Entrepreneurship Studies in Nigeria’s higher education institutions must inevitably begin working with industry players as well as other key stakeholders if student education is 21st century and useful to society. An internship should not only serve to achieve good grades, but also to acquire functional training that can already be used during school days. Indeed, the internship should be modeled after the training that leads to the ability to solve practical problems.

As good as professional training like “sewing,” “necktying and dyeing,” “soap making,” etc., such skills cannot really bring about the desired economic growth and development unless they are driven by technology. There are government institutions in Nigeria that research and teach technological entrepreneurship. Institutions such as the National Center for Technology Management (NACETEM), an agency of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, have worked closely with development partners such as the World Bank in this area. Our universities should work hand in hand with such institutions. In the 21st century, knowledge is the currency. Knowledge becomes up-to-date when institutions work together and ideas stimulate each other. In order to make entrepreneurship education a problem-solving tool, technology needs to be used and therefore entrepreneurship institutes need to interact and connect with technology education holders.

In addition to the outlined ways out of the riddle of unemployment through entrepreneurship education, it is considered sensible that tracer studies must be carried out by institutes for entrepreneurship studies in our universities. This is critical for two reasons: to measure the impact of entrepreneurship education on those receiving such training, and to use the recipients as a source of inspiration for those who lag behind. If those who come back know that those who were ahead of them are doing well with the knowledge they have acquired, it will serve as a moral boost for them.

Unemployment or underemployment is a threat. It enables vice and affects people socio-economically and psychologically. The associated problems of unemployment could not have been presented better than with the words of AsmundAamass et al. “Since employment is a central source of identity and an organizational framework for daily life in our cultures, the unemployed suffer from psychological and social stress. It is well known that unemployment is linked to negative health outcomes. Unemployment leads to stress-related illnesses and a reduced self-esteem due to unmet psychological and social needs in such contexts as: time structure, social interaction, common goals, status, identity, recognition and also uncertainty about the future, financial instability, and loss of professional identity … Therefore, coping issues are becoming central. ”The best way to deal with this is to have scalable skills. The scalable skills flow into entrepreneurship training tailored to solving social problems. It is time to rethink, repackage and redesign the entrepreneurship education in our universities!
Oluyi is a personality development attorney and head of public relations at the National Center for Technology Management, an agency of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.