Evidence On The Role Of Learning In Tackling Graduate Unemployment

Graduate unemployment

Why are so many graduates unemployed? On the 17th of October 2018, Daily News reported that graduate unemployment in the UK fell to 5.1%. This figure is indicated to be the lowest since 1979 when it stood at 4.9%.

The paper further reported that the decrease in graduate unemployment was as a result of skill shortages across industries. As a result, prospective graduates were able to gain entry to fill shortages in IT, engineering, accountancy, and marketing.

In the United States, the graduate unemployment rate stood at 3.7% as at June 2018. This rate is pretty low compared to that of the UK. The unemployment rate in the US from 2001 is dramatic because of the popular 9/11 that ravaged the economy of the United States. Before the occurrence. Before the incidence, the unemployment rate stood at 4.6%.

After the incidence, rates rose drastically to 5.7% in November 2001. This was the beginning of the economic recession in the US. By October 2009, it skyrocketed to a maximum of 10%. By September 2015, it fell to 5.1%.

In India, Deccan Herald reported a 16.3% graduate unemployment and 14.2% post-graduate unemployment. However, it noted that the national average across all educational levels is at 5%.

On the 23rd of September 2018, Financial Tribune reported that graduate unemployment rate in Iran stood at 19.4%.

According to the report, “Out of 12.5 million university graduates, only about 7.1 million or 56.9% were economically active last year, of whom 5.7 million or 80.6% were employed and 1.4 million or 19.4% were unemployed.”

Nigerian Rate of Unemployment

In Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics reports an unemployment of 18.8% with youth unemployment/underemployment stood at 52.65%. Since January 2015, the rate of unemployment in Nigeria has been rising. Beginning from 6.4% to 18.8% in July 2017. The diagram below depicts a chart of the rising rate of unemployment in Nigeria.

Graduate unemployment - unemplyment rate

(Chart of Rate of Unemployment in Nigeria)

Similarly, youth unemployment in Nigeria has risen from 11.7% in January 2015 to 33.1% in July 2017 as indicated in the diagram below.

Graduate unemployment - youth unemployment rate

(Chart of Youth unemployment in Nigeria)

This rising rate of unemployment and youth unemployment in Nigeria has been an issue of concern to individuals, institutions and policymakers. As a result, issues relating to unemployment has made news headlines of some National dailies.

For instance, in June 2017, Business Insider reported that the unemployment rate has hit 21%. According to the report, “Nigeria has a high youth unemployment (25.2%), while about 61.5% of those with gainful employment are working below their minimum capability and capacity (Underemployment rate).”

In February 2018, Vanguard reports that the crisis of unemployment would disrupt the Federal Government from reaching her goal of becoming the top 20 leading economies in the world by 2020. According to the report, “The socio-economic environment is becoming harsher for businesses to thrive, thereby frustrating the capacity of businesses to sustain and create employment.”

Solutions in View

The later report reveals the danger of unemployment in a developing economy. As a result, many have proffered solution to reduce this rising rate.

One solution proffered by Kachi Ogbonna is innovation and a fundamental shift in thinking. He believed that Nigeria is filled with more opportunities that can accommodate any idea any youth can come up with. I strongly subscribe to his stand, and this is the course we are pursuing to make Nigeria what it ought to be.

Different people proffer different solutions including entrepreneurship, expansionary fiscal policy, reduction in interest rate, reformation of the agricultural sector, change in the university curriculum and many more.

Also, Lionel Wijesiri underscored the role of education in curbing graduate unemployment in any nation.

According to him,

“The impetus to a higher level of development of any country’s economy lies in the general educational achievement of the country’s citizens. The ability of students to succeed is determined, not only by the degrees they earn but also by the quality and relevance of what they learn to the changing labor market.”

Learning: A Solution to Graduate Unemployment

In addition to the above-proffered solutions, I understood that education can be made better through learning. According to Wikipedia, learning is the process of acquiring new or modifying existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences.

Learning is the foundation of knowledge. Without learning, every teaching effort is futile. Therefore, it is important that teachers, instructors, facilitators and educators at all levels pay attention to their audience. They should understand their audience first. Also, they should determine the most effective type of learning suitable for their audience. To achieve this, they need to:

  1. Interact with their audience
  2. Know and focus on what turns them on/off, and
  3. Determine what catches their attention and build on them

Educators should understand that effective knowledge impartation requires the commitment of the learner and the teacher as well.

The Basis of Learning

During my third year in the university, I remember learning a course called distribution theory. Many might know, but till today, I have not understood the application of this course in my life. The key problem was that our lecturer kept emphasizing on theory, as the name implied, without application. In fact, the lecturer ended up frustrating me and others. In a situation like this, how can the students learn? When students are being frustrated by their instructors, what should they do?

In my final year, we were taught a course called multivariate analysis. A wonderful course, I loved this course. On one occasion, I still remember a drama that took place in our class.

On that fateful day, our lecturer kept writing figures on the board and we kept copying, waiting for an explanation. When the explanation was not forthcoming, one of us raised his hand and asked; “Sir, please, how did you arrive at this figure.” The lecturer responded; “because that is the answer. I have been teaching this course for over 20 years and I know the figures by heart.”

What a way to answer a question. In fact, the answer instilled fear in us that we could not ask further questions. I ask again, how will the students understand? How would they apply what is being taught when they don’t understand? They might manage to pass the exam, but can they apply the knowledge to real life problems? Sorry to say this! But this is how bad our education is today.

Learning in our Schools

Some educators do not care to know if their audience is learning. They do not pay attention to their level of understanding. They are not concerned about their curiosity. Actually, their question is an aberration.

Why is it so? What did you observe could be the cause? From my observation, I found that most of them are interested in money making. This could come from monthly salary, instruction materials, or other sources. No wonder examination malpractice has become the other of the day in our schools.

When the educators fail to teach the students, students themselves would bear the burden of learning. In reality, they will figure out how best to pass the examinations and obtain their certificate. In their mind, they are saying, this is what the society wants.

Graduate unemployment -

(Credits: Google images)

This is the state of our education system and it has been persistent. Some have said that our graduates are not employable. This is one of the reasons. Think about it.

How can they be employable when they were not being taught? How can they be employable when all they were taught is a theory? How can they be employable when they do not know how to do? How can they be employable when all they know is definition, description, state, …?

These things do not solve problems, they only explain. To solve real problems, you need how? But then how is not taught.

I think our educational system needs a complete overhaul. Most of our curriculum is outdated coupled with an outdated method of teaching and learning. When I was in school, all we were taught in computer science were BASIC, FORTRAN, and PASCAL.

In as much as I understood their importance and the fundamental concepts, they teach in programming. What happened to C/C++, what about C#, JAVA, and other modern programming languages. Besides, we did not even see any computer not to think of practicing programming.

In those days, I heard about Visual Basic from an outsider. For years, they are still using the same curriculum. This is why graduates of computer science cannot boast of writing a simple programme to solve the problem.

How, the Basis for Employment

The situation worsened when those who were sent on Industrial Training ended up seeking for where they will be heavily paid rather than where they will learn how. This is how well most of our undergraduates can think.

They forgot that the school system has denied them what they should know. They forgot that they are unemployable except if they know how. They forgot that to learn how they must figure it out themselves. They forgot that to figure out how they must devote themselves to learning.

They must think creatively and they must focus on the solution. Those who solve problems and are solving problems today can testify to this truth. I am not condemning money. Of course, money is good, I like money too. But I’ve learned that it should not be chased. It should not be paramount in your journey. If you get things right, money will, rather, chase you.


To reduce the rate of graduate unemployment, our undergraduates should learn not to wait for educators to teach them everything.

In life, no one will teach you everything. You have to figure some things out by yourself. We must grow to learn how to solve problems using the knowledge we have acquired. We are the captain of our own lives.

We should not wait for others to direct things for us. We must direct our lives and careers by directing our thoughts and belief. Keep your eyes at your destination by learning how to get there.

Also, graduate unemployment can be reduced through creative thinking. Creative thinkers are concerned about doing because doing solve problems. This is what the world wants. Though our education system does not guarantee that, we must not be handicapped by them.

The future is brighter, do not let the present limit your goal in life. Learn to be employable. Learn to solve problems. Be creative! Your future depends on it.

There are various ways of learning that will be useful to educators and learners. This we will discuss in our next post.