Over 100 million young Nigerians are currently lacking the necessary digital skills essential for capitalizing on job opportunities that demand modern proficiency, according to a report released by GetBundi, an online educational technology company. The study conducted by the company shines a light on a critical issue within Nigeria.
The implications of this digital divide, as highlighted by Mr. Osita Oparaugo, CEO of GetBundi, are extensive. The findings of the survey underscore a substantial discrepancy in digital skills, which correlates closely with the persistently high unemployment rate in the country.
This significant concern gains even greater attention as Mr. Oparaugo offers an illustrative example to underscore the gravity of the situation. Drawing from a separate GetBundi survey conducted in 2023, he draws attention to the deficiency in digital expertise among young members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
Out of the 100 participants observed, merely 19 demonstrated some level of digital proficiency. This statistic serves as a reminder that many Nigerian tertiary students are not dedicating sufficient effort to acquiring vital digital competencies beyond their core areas of study.
The ramifications of this digital skills gap span various dimensions. Notably, access to meaningful employment, active participation in the evolving digital economy, and overall socio-economic progress of the nation are all adversely impacted. As Nigeria endeavors to establish a foothold in the global digital economy, the importance of equipping its youth with digital skills cannot be disregarded. Bridging this gap involves not only empowering individuals but also unlocking new avenues for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic advancement.
Addressing this challenge necessitates collaborative endeavors from diverse stakeholders: educational institutions, governmental bodies, private sector entities, and technology-focused organizations like GetBundi. Recognizing this issue serves as a call to action for initiatives focused on imparting digital literacy, facilitating access to technology, and fostering an environment that nurtures digital talents. By doing so, Nigeria moves closer to a future in which its youth are well-prepared to excel in an increasingly digitalized world, ensuring prosperity for future generations.
Unemployment: A Compelling Realm Where Digital Skills Offer Solutions
As numerous recent graduates encounter difficulties in securing employment due to a substantial skills gap, the primary cause of unemployment becomes apparent. In response to this concern, Oparaugo emphasizes the pivotal role played by a lack of digital literacy in this distressing scenario.
Oparaugo contends that the absence of digital skills has emerged as a prominent factor hindering countless graduates produced by tertiary institutions each year from finding jobs within the labor market. He adds that these graduates face a challenge due to their deficiency in digital capabilities, relying primarily on basic Microsoft Excel proficiency and fundamental knowledge.
He delves into the situation, revealing a striking reality: the majority of young individuals with some degree of digital understanding are limited to Microsoft Excel and fundamental concepts. Interestingly, only seven individuals possess a grasp of advanced concepts such as programming, machine learning, and data science. Notably, all seven acquired this expertise while abroad—five from the United Kingdom, one from the United States, and one from Malaysia.
Commenting on this, he notes that while these graduates maintain an active presence on social media, with 89 of them engaged on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, their grasp of digital skills remains mediocre at best. Surprisingly, even though 15 of them hold diplomas in various science-based disciplines, assessments of their practical knowledge expose their inadequacy.
In a society where digital prowess holds immense power, this challenging predicament takes center stage. While these graduates are not entirely culpable for their situation, it remains a cause for concern.
The urgency to bridge this gap transcends assigning blame and necessitates a multi-faceted strategy involving lawmakers, corporations, and educational institutions. Empowering graduates with essential skills becomes crucial as the global digital landscape continues to evolve, ensuring Nigeria’s workforce remains competitive and adaptable to contemporary demands.
Oparaugo attributes the scarcity of digital skills to the shortcomings of Nigeria’s education system, which fails to align with the requisites of the digital era.
He critiques the education system for lagging behind the swiftly changing digital landscape. Many Nigerian universities and tertiary institutions employ outdated curricula that lack comprehensive coverage of practical digital skills.
Consequently, the education system falls short of equipping young individuals with the fundamental digital competencies necessary for both employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
He points out that the government recognizes the significance of addressing this issue and has initiated measures to enhance digital knowledge and skill levels among youth.
These measures encompass diverse approaches, such as coding boot camps, online learning platforms, collaborations with tech firms, and programs emphasizing digital creativity in entrepreneurship.
Despite these endeavors providing avenues for Nigerian youth to acquire and apply digital skills, subsequently improving their prospects for good employment and success as entrepreneurs, Oparaugo emphasizes that closing the skills gap requires concerted efforts from multiple fronts.
This entails collaboration between the government, educational institutions, private sector enterprises, and individuals themselves.