By Richardson Ogwezzy
In Nigeria, one knotty condition on employment is the age limit. Job vacancies advertised over the years state age limits between 18 to 25 and not more than 35 years for graduates.
This has become a worrisome issue in Nigeria. Take for example, at about 18 years a Nigerian student graduate from secondary school. Some may spend a few years passing SSCE. Others that want to attend tertiary institutions may have delay for some years in the course of passing UME and Post UME. At the tertiary institutions, it takes 4 years and above depending on course duration. There are cases where students experience a delay in graduation that elongates their stay in schools. The delay such as in strikes either internal or external, cases of Covid 19 and students’ academic problems. When all these are added to students’ education you will observe that many more Nigerians will graduate at about 30 years of age. The funniest of it all is that, when students graduate earlier, they may stay for a long time before job vacancies are advertised. At the end of the day, the average Nigerian graduate is trapped in the complications of age limits with regard to employment. The age limit the Nigerian labor market places on employment make a lot of Nigerian youths unemployable.
In most cases, applicants in Nigeria are required to have a long period of years of experience as in the cases of graduates. Laying much emphasis on experience makes it look like to rub salt into the wound. The question is: Where will Nigerian graduates get on-the-job experience where there are no jobs to engage them? Does on-the-job experience exist in the absence of a job? This is likened to asking a woman, to show you her mate when she has no husband(that is not married). The request for experience is even a smash-up of its own.
For instance, the Federal Government recently advertised 774,000 job opportunities and it was observed that many Ph.D. and MSc degree holders applied for these jobs, though quite below their qualifications. Having finished first degree at a tender age, job opportunities were not available for them; hence their quest for Master and Ph.D. degrees. Thus, elongating their age limits, making them unemployable. This has actually worsened the level of unemployment in the country.
I see the age limit as a way of getting Nigerian youths caged. In elections into political offices, age limits are not critically considered in the sense that they will fix minimum entry age without stating the maximum age to vie for political offices.
This pathetic situation has placed many Nigerian youths in a disadvantaged position. What then is the hope of Nigerian youths with respect to job placement? When job opportunities are not easy to come by, what is the hope of the youths’ education, bearing in mind that a very large population of Nigerian students go to schools or acquire education for the sake of securing white-collar jobs. No wonder our youths commonly say, when it comes to education, that education is a scam. If the mentality of our youths has deteriorated to this level, one can easily have the notion that education in this country is going down the drain. If it is so, what are the hope of the country and the youths?
It will be painful and excruciating for a student to graduate from tertiary institutions without the hope of securing a job. Worse still, when government advertises job vacancies, the positions will be politicized. The youths go to politicians to beg for what is their rights. But how many of these youths have a direct link to the political class.
Apart from this, both the Federal and State Governments have ministries involving youth affairs in the country but the offices(positions) are occupied by older people(non-youths). The saddening aspect of it is that the youths are the ones that make things happen. Who becomes the President or Governor, Senator………… etc is determined by the youths through the electoral process. But they are robbed(denied) of their chances of benefiting from their offices. Our youths have become the proverbial cock that crows to wake people from sleep in the morning, but later gets killed for one ceremony or another,; the dog that guards a rich man, and the dog is fed with bones and the goat whose dung is used as manure, but when it eats from the crop receives a beating or death sentence.
Statistics have it that many Nigerian graduates involved in heinous crimes, at interrogation, confessed that their involvement in crimes is due to the fact, that they were not gainfully employed. Worse still, whenever vacancies exist, one knotty condition or other, such as age, disqualifies them from securing the job. Being graduates, their families expect much from them; such as helping to redeem what was invested in them and the need for them to cope with life reality, they are incapacitated due to no job Syndrome.
Frankly speaking, these reasons are not cogent and pleasing for indulging in crimes but I know, it will serve as a working document to let the government know the implications.
The resultant effect of these bottlenecks on employment is that it will discourage students’ education. And education which is the bedrock of any nation and the key to civilization will be in jeopardy.
President Muhammadu Buhari has discovered the problem of age in employment based on the current trend. I believe these issues are currently on his table and he is resolving them one after the other. This is why on the 5th day of October 2020, PMB elongated the retirement age of teachers to 65. I know having considered retirement age, other age-related issues with regards to employment will be the next issue for him to look at before the youths’ protest.
Nigerian government should treat this issue as one of the youth’s” unvoiced or latent problems because it looks like an infringement of the rights and the government should not treat it with a wave of the hand.
It, therefore, becomes imperative that this idea be passed to the Nigerian Legislature to extend his good gestures by increasing the employment age in the country for the interest of the Nigerian youths. In addition, he (Mr. President) should give ample opportunities to youths to be involved in decisions concerning youth affairs in the country.
At this juncture, I will advise that employers of labor in the country, be it Federal or State Government or the organized private sector should be more liberal and humane in dealing with applicants with regards to the age limit.