The United Nations has reported Nigeria’s population at 212 million for the end of 2021. Ostensibly, Nigeria has one of the youngest populations in the world with more than 50% of the population below 30 years of age and 35% of its population within the 15-34 age group. This young population could be Nigeria’s greatest asset if properly harnessed, leading to an expanded workforce, increased productivity, and inclusive economic growth. However, the reality in Nigeria today is that the majority of young jobseekers are afforded few opportunities for stable economic income. As a result, rather than the country taking advantage of this opportunity for growth and development, Nigeria is regressing to be among the countries with the highest poverty rates and highest youth unemployment rates in the world.
How to reduce the barriers and constraints that youth face to economic and, more specifically, labour market inclusion is a critical question if Nigeria is to continue developing. This study aims to make several contributions to answering this question. First, it seeks to find answers to the sources of exclusion of youth from the labour market. Second, it assesses the school-to-work transition and job security of those that were successful in securing ‘good’ jobs post education. Third, the study investigates the stress and discouragement faced by youth due to lack of success in and exclusion from the labour market. Lastly, in a view to designing policy in the future, the study seeks to investigate the preferences and aspirations of youth in the Nigerian labour market. For the purpose of this study, both quantitative and qualitative data is collected through a survey of young individuals across six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
The issue of youth unemployment is pervasive amongst countries with fast-growing populations. How to absorb the millions of new workers joining the labour force each year will be a significant challenge across sub-Saharan Africa. This study will help identify barriers that youth face in the labour market and potential policy solutions to these constraints.