NYSC’s ‘no white-collar jobs’ warning
NIGERIAN youths, especially those graduating from institutions of higher learning, do not need to be warned or reminded that the days of automatic white-collar employment opportunities are gone.
The Acting Director General of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Christy Uba, reiterated this reality at the swearing-in of Batch “C” Stream II Corps members throughout the country. Even President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly warned of the dearth of jobs in the civil service at all levels. This trend is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is a worldwide trend.
Anyone still enrolling in the university or any other tertiary institution for the purpose of landing an office job upon graduation is not being properly guided or advised. Without a doubt, university education remains vital because it is ostensibly a means of acquiring knowledge and certification that instils confidence and a solid foundation in youth. But a degree is now a starting point, not a destination.
Tertiary education is not the only way to achieve self-actualisation. Indeed, some of the world’s wealthiest men, who are driving technological disruptions, are not university or college graduates. These include: Microsoft founder, Bill Gates; Oracle co-owner, Larry Ellison; Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey; CNN owner, Ted Turner; Facebook(Meta) founder, Mark Zuckerberg and a host of others.
The world has changed from what it used to be. This is more so about Nigeria. It is unfortunate that our education planners have failed to adjust our academic curriculum to accommodate changes. We are still largely operating the template left behind by the British colonial masters, which was aimed at training white-collar officers (bureaucrats, administrators, teachers, and professionals) to man government and private sector offices that their officials were to leave behind at independence.
The colonialists also recognised the fact that not everyone needed a university education. They created avenues for “blue collar” occupations. Commercial schools and vocational centres were where skills such as woodworking, ironwork, agriculture, and others were taught. Unfortunately, the prestige of white-collar office jobs and university education became a disincentive.
We now live in a world where most of the courses being taught in universities and other tertiary institutions have increasingly become irrelevant. They have either been taken over by technology or technology has taken them to the fingertips of virtually anyone with a smartphone or computing equipment.
The minds of our youth must be reoriented to shift from the old template of office work to tech-based skills. Agriculture can never go out of fashion; only the archaic methods will. The youth must get down and dirty once again for gainful employment.
Even after graduation, our youth must learn skills that allow them to be self-reliant. Technology acquisition is mostly free on the internet. Our youth should shun frivolities and embrace the positive use of the internet.