Topic Tuesday: Unemployable Nigerian Graduates

Nigerian Graduates

The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is still on the rise with the youth demography largely affected. Why are most Nigerian graduates unemployable? We combed Quora for some opinions and this is what we found:

Femi Sokoya

I have met too many Nigerians who studied in Nigeria and have excelled beyond sometimes their own expectations when crossing over to study in developed, and more rational climes.

In my own view the premium on knowledge is lacking in Nigeria, there is a Yoruba joke that goes something like; you are reading books, while I am counting money. Said in Yoruba ‘read’ and ‘count’ sound the same only the intonation is different. What I am trying to say here is that the ‘money culture’ that pervades the Nigeria psyche has made everything that is not synonymous with big money, not relevant.

Every young person wants to graduate and get an oil company job or a bank job, with the emphasis in education not on gaining knowledge that is required to get the job done, rather getting a piece of paper that says you went through university and you should be given the job irrespective.

There is a lack of innovation such that young people do not think about ways of getting things done differently, and better. When new concepts are thought of, they are knocked down flat with the reminder that things have been done in a certain and there is not a requirement for change.

Not only that, people in authority are suspicious of moves that elevates an underling. That goes to show their own shortcomings, as such, the dumber the youngsters that come off the education pipeline the better, nobody is complaining.

The youth in Nigeria don’t realise that they are being short-changed by the elite and spend their time fighting amongst themselves instead of demanding quality education and change. They also do not know what to fight for in any case.

I have found Nigerians to the smartest people around and the only reason it seems that many Nigerian undergraduates seem to be unemployable is that they have been dealt a totally unfair ‘educational hand of cards’.



It is very possible to study medicine and never become a doctor in Nigeria. The simple truth is, most unemployed graduates in Nigeria aren’t solving a real world problem.

Your certificate might be a 1st class in Accounting but it’s not your certificate that would work in FirstBank of Nigeria or the CBN. It’s you! If like most graduates who don’t learn what’s needed to be productive in their field but only tried to pass exams, the number of unemployed graduates will keeping multiplying.

There are too many job opportunities but who to do it properly is an issue. Most graduates with high grades didn’t actually get the grades via merit and that’s what will limit their success in the real world.

Schools and some religious organizations don’t encourage skills acquisitions, talent and personal development. These keeps scholars in a tight corner when all they can offer is what they studied.

I know a lot of undergraduates that can employ up to 10 graduates and pay them up to 50 thousand Naira a month, comfortably.

If our undergraduates can learn super skills, get talented, be hard working in school and pass without bypassing, become productive and solve real world problems, the number of Nigerian undergraduates that are unemployed will be reducing every year.

Another thing, study what you love and have passion for so that it won’t be a battle to succeed. Don’t be forced or persuaded into becoming something different from your real self. It has made so many graduates hopeless and disappointed at the end because it wasn’t their thing..

Learn to solve major real world problems and unemployment will not be an issue any longer.


Shirley Banks

I have many friends from Nigeria in the U.K here. 80% of these folks that graduated from Nigerian schools are majorly business admin graduates, international relations grads, mass comm grads, journalism and the likes. While these career paths are awesome; they are actually over-saturated.

In other parts, you will find someone focus on what the job marketplace truly needs. You will therefore find someone getting certified or qualified in career paths like CYBER SECURITY, or becoming expert at leading programming like PYTHON.

This means you will find someone who dedicates 3 – 6 months in specializing in core skills that are highly marketable and that EMPLOYERS seek after; and these are some of the highest paying jobs you can find; and are even taught online plus certifications that beat 90% certs from Nigeria.

So who is smarter? The student who spends 4, 5 or 7 years in Nigeria struggling to earn a degree that’s over-saturated OR one who gets trained in few months in what’s hot and needed by employers of labour.

This is what I think makes the difference!

Eric Bashir

I’m in my final year studying for a Bachelor of Technology degree in Computer Science and while I’m still a student, I not only run my own outfit that provides IT services for businesses of different sizes, I’m currently interning as both a developer and designer at Whogohost, one of the continent’s leading domain registrars and web hosting and services provider, a position I got simply because I possessed the skills. I’ll begin to answer your beautifully crafted question from here.

As the popular media campaign that gained a lot of traction, #NigerianYouthsAreNotLazy, following a statement made by the Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari in April at a business conference in London, where in his own words,

“A lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming, you know, that Nigeria has been an oil producing country therefore they should sit and do nothing and get housing, health care, education, free.”

To start with, that is coming from a President that … I’d stop there.

If ‘Nigerian Graduates’ are to a large part unemployable, then the problem has to do with the Nigerian educational system. Having spent four years in a tertiary institution approved by the Nigerian Universities Commission, I can say that the prevalent motivation among Nigerian Students is to pass exams. When that is the primary reason you are in school and it is the only thing required of you from your Professors and the society at large, true educational value is missing. In the Nigerian educational system, you have little incentive for exceptional performance beyond acing exams by cramming your way through.

A lot of young people in Nigeria are rising to the challenge though, and like myself, are acquiring relevant skills of the age to contribute to the global tech wave. Have you heard about The Team of Five Nigerian Girls who won the $10,000 App Award at the Technovation World Challenge in California for their app, FD Detector, to fight fake drugs in the country?

Things are changing. Many Nigerian youths are realizing that the key to employability is possessing a good set of hard skills along side a good school result.


Osita Daniel

I’ve interviewed over 100 people over the last five years, and here is what I think

Next to zero guardian counseling exists at Primary and Secondary school level – For this reason, many people end up studying courses in university that they have no business with, hence, they struggle throughout university, come out with bad grades, become mentally jaded, demoralized … and so their story goes..
Next to zero vocational training at secondary school level – If proper vocational training at pre and post secondary school level exists, many people will quickly find what they have passion for, and hence, they can start developing that skill early enough
Next to zero understanding that you don’t need to be employed – Yes, you don’t need to be employed. We still need a lot of plumbers, auto mechanics, carpenters, technicians e.t.c who know what they are doing. There is serious shortage of it. The young man who produced the furniture I use in my home today is not up to 30 years of age. He has developed himself in that area, and for the amount he charged for the job, he is surely doing fairly well. His packaging was awesome. Came with his iPad, showed me designs, discussed with me till we agreed on something I like, and then we agreed a price and he begun. My point here is this: hone a skill. Today, my means of livelihood is by a skill I developed, and its not even remotely close to anything I learnt in school.

There are other cases that are related to total failure at the foundational level of the individual (maybe wrong parenting and stuff), but many of those cases are isolated and hence, not the norm.





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