In this part of the world where university and polytechnic graduates are faced with uncertainties and myriads of challenges in the labour market, those who merely went beyond primary school education or at best dropped out from secondary schools and then proceeded to learn a trade, say, in carpentry, mechanical vocations by the roadsides or driving appear to be “making it”, to use a local parlance.
It is no more news to see artisans who are primary school leaving certificate holders, and even traders who are under apprenticeship to an auto spare parts dealer in one the spare parts markets in Lagos stealing the show in a social or political gathering.
Some of them that are naturally overbearing sometimes go ahead to rule the roost at such occasions. Not only are these nouveau riches seen attracting all the attentions needed in any gathering to themselves, they are wont to fuddle their brain with assorted alcoholic drinks and resort to talk down or taunt those that are seen to be highly educated in the gathering. Some arrogant ones among them may choose to turn any jobless graduate that is observed to be anxious and obsequious as a result of not knowing where the next opportunity may come from to a messenger.
This category of people whose fortune rightly explains Chinua Achebe’s proverb that says “Those whose palm kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble” would, on most occasion braggingly ask any jobless or underemployed graduate that comes their way to forward his or her CV to them for employment opportunities.
The foregoing graphic illustration aptly paints the demeaning level which the prevailing unemployment situation in the country has brought millions of educated youths to. As it is, unemployed or underemployed graduates are no more difficult to find at bus stops struggling to board buses that are conducted by cheeky drivers and conductors. Back in the days, when the economy was rated to be in a good state, not few graduates were able to acquire the cheapest car unarguably from the proceeds and perks they got during the time of national service.
Derogatorily enough, of all that unemployed or underemployed youths are facing in the society is the one from their nuclear and extended family settings where some of them are seen by their relatives as parasites, lazy and good for nothing youths.
Permit me to say that all the foregoing instances are just few among the humiliating experiences which many youths are passing through. As a result of the plethora of taunts that the youths are faced with, a pall has already being cast over the value of education. Most parents and guardians are beginning to question the propriety of sponsoring their children or wards in the universities or polytechnics.
Due to the soaring rate of unemployment that prevails in the country, many now see investment in tertiary education, so to say, through the education of their children or wards as not profitable. In the rural areas, uneducated peasant farmers now sit over keg of palm wine to discuss in emotional tones and wag their heads over the plights of Nigerian youths that graduated from any of our tertiary institutions that are still finding it difficult to eke a living.
The situation has worsened so much so that uneducated village girls now turn down, with a shrug of the shoulders, the hands of marriage extended to them by struggling graduates. Without any scintilla of hyperbole, many aspiring youths, ostensibly in the face of the eroding value of education, now gleefully opt for apprenticeship programs in various trades that are run by roadsides artisans without thinking of what the future holds for them with such myopic ambition.
You may have argued that with proficiency in any particular vocational trade that gainful employment is guaranteed or assured to the youth that learnt a trade under apprenticeship than the one that went to the university to study. In as much as the employ-ability of the former is not in doubt, it does not stand to reason that the one that went to university to study an art subject has made a mistake. No! The essence of this piece is to lay emphasis on the fact that training in any particular trade should go hand-in-hand with education. Both endeavors should be seen as complimentary and not to be seen in isolation. This is how the youths in most Asian countries like China and Korea are groomed for the national leadership of the countries that are found in the continent.
It is expedient to add that irrespective of the course that is studied by any youth in the university or polytechnic and the high rate of unemployment in the labour market that the graduate still stands on an advantageous pedestal of a better future.
According to Diogenes Laetius, “When asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated, Aristotle answered, “As much as the living are to the dead.”
As Abraham Lincoln rightly said, “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not deter us from the cause we believe to be just.” From the perspective of the foregoing quote, if today’s leaders in diverse sector of the economy were to have seen the barriers that were obviously ahead of their dream before they proceeded to study the various courses that individually made them who they are today, most of them would have been farmers today as they would have burst the idea of going to study in any higher institution. The wisdom in this view is aptly captured in Ecclesiastes chapter 11 verse 4 that says “He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” To my view, the youths of today should not relent in their educational ambitions as the bleak atmosphere in the labour market is ephemeral. The bleak atmosphere would by each passing day improve with better opportunities.
At this juncture, it is expedient to opine that man is nothing without education. Added to the foregoing is the fact that an educated youth tries to understand each and everything on its own rather than blindly following anyone else. According to Donald J. Trump, “People who are capable of thinking for themselves will rarely be part of any herd.” An educated youth does not only disdain joining the bandwagon, but also explains the real logic behind any happening to others. Thus, education clears out the darkness with the intense light of knowledge.
It suffice to say that well educated youths help to enhance the country’s progress as they understand the essence and dynamics of democracy and national development better than their counterparts that veered off from the course of education to learn vocational skills. Reading between the lines of this piece would justify the fact that this writer is not against the acquisition of vocational skills by the youths but it should not be done at the expense of being educated. Nothing stops an ND1 mechanical engineering student at Yaba College of Technology, Yabatech, in Lagos to apprenticed himself to a mechanic workshop at Jibowu that is close to his school for 3-day release training that falls within his free period per week.
Still in the same nexus,, educated youths know pretty well how to distinguish the right from the wrong when faced with an ethical issue at any given time. They do not need to follow the words of the third person.
Finally, it is germane to advise the youths through this piece to pursue their collective dream, and should not allowed the soaring and threatening rate of unemployment and underemployment in the labour market to make them toe the career path they never dreamt of. They should be reassured through government policy statements and actions that education still pays despite the dreary atmosphere in the labour market.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.