With the country’s population currently at over 170 million and a high population growth rate, Nigeria needs to create 40 to 50 million additional jobs between 2010 and 2030, a new World Bank report says.
To reduce poverty and promote more inclusive growth in the economy, the reports, said the new jobs need to be more productive and provide higher incomes than the country’s current jobs.
The report titled “More, and More Productive, Jobs for Nigeria” provides a detailed overview of jobs, workers, and employment opportunities, while “Understanding and Driving Private Sector growth in Nigeria” studies constraints and drivers of firm-level growth and implications for employment.”
The third report “Skills for Competitiveness and Employability” examines the demand in priority economic and job growth sectors and how to ensure that Nigerians have the right skills.
World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud, said understanding where people work and constraints to firm growth, and the necessary skills were fundamental for formulating appropriate policies.
“The solid, detailed diagnostics in these reports are critical inputs to developing education and jobs strategies for Nigeria.” The World Bank Country director said.
The reports showed a geographic divide between regions, with northern Nigeria having low levels of education access and high youth underemployment than the South.
Although skills required in Nigeria remained mostly manual, the South, the reports said, was experiencing more demand for the cognitive skills required by the new knowledge economy.
Findings from the studies showed that majority of adult Nigerians were employed, but locked into low-productivity and low-income work, with no job or income security.
The studies also found out that half of working Nigerians were in small-holder farming, while another 30 percent working as self-employed in small or micro household enterprises in the non-agricultural sector.
Their work is not enough to escape poverty, or attain middle class status for their households.
The reports call attention to key areas for the country’s education, competitiveness, and jobs agenda.
These include a transition into more productive employment requiring more skills, with the country’s need for improved basic skills levels.
Although the private sector generates employment, the report said growth was too small to absorb a large number of Nigerians, with about 4 million microenterprises capable of generating wage jobs.
“The formal sector appears to have an even greater potential to grow and generate employment, but is limited by low productivity especially in northern Nigeria. The biggest gains to productivity would come from reducing crime, improving access to credit, reducing losses due to power outages, and increasing use of the Internet,” the report said.
A focus on agriculture, the report noted, was critical, as it would remain the largest employer for the foreseeable future, although it noted a disconnect.
Agriculture, it pointed out, contributed 22 percent to the gross domestic products, GDP in 2012, but employed half of the working population.
Raising agricultural productivity by incorporating small farmers in value chains, and increasing access to markets, inputs, and technology would both help raise income opportunities for small holder farmers and simultaneously tap into the significant potential for domestic agriculture and agribusinesses in Nigeria.
The reports proposed programmes that would reduce income volatility over the short term, by creating safety nets to prevent people from falling into poverty and protect economic development over the longer term.