More, and More Productive, Jobs for Nigeria

March 15, 2016

More, and more productive, jobs are needed.

  • Jobs are critical for Nigeria’s present and future. Better jobs and income earning opportunities form the basis for more diversified economic growth, more and more evenly distributed poverty reduction, and social cohesion.
  • Because of demographic pressures, between now and 2030, over 40 million additional jobs will be needed to employ Nigeria’s population.
  • Most adults work but they are employed in low productivity, low income jobs. Two thirds of adults 15-64 are employed
    • But less than one in five of working Nigerians have an employer: half are in small holder farming; another thirty percent are working as self-employed in a small/micro household enterprise in the non-agricultural sector.
    • Work is not enough to escape poverty; it is where one works that matters:  half of those working in agriculture belong to the poorest forty percent of the population, compared to only seventeen of wage workers.
    • Agriculture contributes 22 percent to GDP in 2012, but half of the population worked there – highlighting the scope for raising agricultural productivity

The transformation of employment opportunities will need to be balanced – across geographic areas, sectors, and demographic groups. More balanced growth is needed:

  • Geographically. Job and income opportunities are concentrated in the south, in or near the largest cities. Two thirds of workers in the North East are in agriculture, compared to less than one in five workers in the South East.
  • Private sector wage work is starting from a very low base. Agriculture will remain the largest employer for the foreseeable future. The household enterprise sector will continue to absorb a major share of those leaving agriculture.
  • There is a gender gap in the labor market and youth struggle to transition from school to productive work.

Transitions into more productive employment will require more skills…

  • Globally and in Nigeria, jobs are certainly requiring higher level skills, including those needed in a knowledge economy.  But high education investments are disproportionate retained in public employment: 46 percent of those with post-secondary education work in the public sector, compared to 13 percent of the overall work force.
  • There is still a critical need to improve basic skills levels.  Thirty percent of youth [ages 15-24] have not completed more than primary education; illiteracy rates are high in certain geographical pockets and among girls. Without quality basic education, a large share of young Nigerians will be trapped in low productivity work, unable to have productive farms and profitable microenterprises.

And improved business environment

  • Improving basic infrastructure and access to finance should be at the top of the policy agenda as these two are considered the most important constraints by firms of all kinds and sizes.
  • Raising agricultural productivity – incorporating small farmers in value chains, raising access to markets, inputs, 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.