By Juliet Ebirim,Olayinka Ajayi & Iyabo Aina
Unemployment, insecurity, harsh economic conditions among others indicate that young graduates in the country are losing out. While unconfirmed statistics indicate that three out of ten graduates in the country are unemployed, some of them have become commercial motorcycle operators and petrol station attendants.
To add to their frustration, some smart but dubious recruitment agencies have capitalised on their woes to exploit them under the guise of securing profitable jobs for them. Some job seekers shared their experiences in the labour market with Saturday Vanguard.
According to Daniel Ogunbiyi, a graduate of Federal University of Technology, Akure, “Most of these recruitment agencies and agents make you feel like you’ll be given a job, but it’s all lies. A firm is not supposed to require you to pay money before giving you a job. First of all, you are expected to pay a non- refundable fee of between N2,000 and N10,000 as registration fee. Then, you are sent to a company to work as a freelance marketer and at the end of the first month, you are expected to give them 20% of your salary or part with a certain percentage of your salary for the first 6 to 12 months”.
The unemployment tale takes an interesting twist when one considers the activities of some agents who take advantage of desperate graduates seeking employment. These agents who are found in various parts of the country pose as representatives of some elitist firms and lure job seekers into parting with large sums with a promise of helping them get a job.
For Michael Adekunle, a graduate of Industrial Chemistry, ‘It is quite disheartening that an average school-leaver in Nigeria is subjected to the compulsory experience of knowing many (if not all) the offices in his or her locality and even beyond, as he or she hunts for job.
“Personally, I had to borrow suits and shoes, which I’m not used to ordinarily, then painstakingly comb the streets with files containing my credentials all to no avail. The search for good jobs in our country is such a cloudy venture in which even the person involved does not know the possible outcome and duration’.
Another job seeker, Ekene Umeh, a Business Administration graduate also disclosed that in most companies, ‘working experience’ is a prerequisite to getting a job.Despite the preparations made before going for the so-called job interviews, one is only made to regret being in attendance.With the ethics and answers to likely questions learnt, we are left frustrated in the long-run. Even when one gets very close to getting the job, ‘work experience’ raises its ugly head suddenly and becomes a monster on the way to one’s success. The question that comes to one’s mind becomes- How is a fresh school-leaver expected to get this so-called ‘work experience’ without being given a job to start with and trusted to do it well?”
Furthermore, he said, “Unlike the ‘long-legged’ school-leavers offered jobs expressly even in places they never merited, the authentic first-class holders are unlawfully disqualified from getting deserved jobs,with ‘work experience’ serving as a hindrance or excuse”.
Eloho Joseph, a graduate who just completed her NYSC programme lamented that “The pains and sufferings accompanying one’s resolve to acquire a university, polytechnic or any other related degree, after four to six years of sleepless nights with endured patience seems to be the beginning of one’s woes and troubles”.
Ella Okonkwo, a Mass Communication graduate added, “There are no jobs in this country. So many graduates are willing to work, but what can they do when the jobs are not there? I completed my youth service in 2011 and I have attended many interviews, yet I still don’t have a decent job”.
On his part, Clifford Umoh, a 2010 graduate of the University of Ibadan, said he has traveled to major cities in the country in search of jobs that seemed to elude him. After three fruitless years of search, he pitched his tent recently with a secondary school in Lagos.
He said: “I studied Political Science in school, but, today, I’m a teacher. Since I graduated, I have traveled to Abuja, Port Harcourt and other cities in search of a job. I passed the aptitude test most times and the employers will promise to “get back to you”, but they never do. Although I am optimistic of getting a good job someday, I had to take this job out of frustration because I was tired of staying at home without working.”
She said: “I was offered this job after many months of searching for a job in Lagos. Although I completed my youth service recently, getting a job has really been frustrating. I took this job with both hands because I know people who graduated long before me who are still hunting for jobs.”
Also, Yunusa Mohammed one of the unemployed graduates of Engineering from Kogi state University spoke with our correspondent while waiting to be selected for a daily job at one of the manufacturing companies along Oshodi Apapa road, Lagos. He said: I had to wake up early and be at the gates of many companies and government ministries. No matter how early you get there, other thousands of job seekers will be waiting for the only three or four job positions available. The next thing you will see is a man would come out and say: “I need two guys for office assistant, two guys for house keeper.” Thereafter, four out of the over one thousand applicants will be selected for the positions. The rest would walk home disappointed hoping to return the following day for another opportunity. As the months and years roll by, ‘depression’ sets in as you are rejected so many times, then you start to question yourself that how can millions of Nigerian graduates be unemployed? So, I think the Federal government should really take a serious step into this case of unemployment in Nigeria ‘’.
Another menial job seeker, Ayeni Taiwo said: ‘’I pray they hear and listen to us. My concern is why are they saying the youth is the future of Nigeria, and they are not discussing the future of both the youth and Nigeria?I personally hold this notion that the oppressors will have no peace as long as they live because the youth have suffered enough ‘’she said.
Adeoye Rahmond another job seeker at the manufacturing company and a graduate of Computer Science from Kwara State University angrily stressed that ‘’ After writing JAMB and much donations from family, friends and community to send you to the University ,after so many ASUP/ASUU strikes endured and also having sleepless nights writing exams, still, we are being treated like slaves by some manufacturing companies. Sometimes, we stand under the sun for hours all in the name of job but at the end one will not get any. Sometimes, we are asked to fill useless forms that would eventually end up in wrapping “Boli” (roasted Plantain) . What I can say is that the federal government does not care about Nigerian youths but they rather care and think of how to embezzle Nigeria money for themselves and family. But I know God is not asleep because one day, all bad governments will die one after the other ‘’.
Edith Ikeyi self employed graduate of Mass communication from Nsukka said ‘’ I think Nigerian graduates have to wake up from the shackles of joblessness and find something else to do . I think, the change have to come from us first before we can then request change from the authority. How do we change first,we have to change our attitude toward the system. For example, i don’t need to apply for jobs where my career path does not fit in . As a communication student , I don’t need to apply for bank jobs neither immigration jobs. Let us put our minds and efforts where we can be relevant and I think that is the first change we need ‘’.