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Background to the Study

Because of the economic slump and recessions experienced in nations throughout the world, graduates of educational institutions in Nigeria face a significant challenge. In Nigeria, the reported youth unemployment rate has risen from 41% in 2009 to above 50% in 2012-2013, and is rising at a pace of 16% each year (Salami, 2013). Though data sources differ significantly depending on the technically jobless population, Nigeria’s vast population size is a significant multiplier, resulting in between 5 and 20 million unemployed youths in Nigeria today.

Unemployment in Nigeria, as in other developing countries throughout the world, has been one of the most perilous social and economic issues the country has faced. It is very rare to find a household in Nigeria where no one is unemployed or faces unemployment. Unemployment’s impact on social and political stability cannot be avoided. Unemployment contributes to societal problems such as armed robbery, prostitution, poverty, ransom kidnapping, bunkering, and other social vices. According to Lemo (2013), entrepreneurship is still a viable alternative for creating jobs, reducing unemployment, and empowering adolescents to establish their enterprises, pursue their ambitions, and contribute to total productive capacity as well as national economic growth and development.

Graduates of Nigerian educational institutions who have completed their required National Youth Service cannot claim of being hired after their service year. Only a handful of them may be fortunate enough to find compensated work. As a result of the country’s economic problems, being a graduate of a higher institution of learning or holding professional qualifications in subjects like as law, medicine, accounting, engineering, and so on is no guarantee of acquiring the desired job.

Skill acquisition in the form of entrepreneurship education has been proposed to help the country address the chronic problem of unemployment and poverty among Nigeria’s teeming youths and graduates, allowing them to be both job creators and wealth builders (Midea, 2004, Izedonmi, 2009, Unachukwu, 2009).

Entrepreneurship skills may be acquired through a variety of means, including attending entrepreneurial training classes, development programs, conferences, and workshops.

Entrepreneurship development has been occurring in Nigeria for many years. Several government organizations and institutions have been involved in various elements of entrepreneurship development, with varying degrees of success. Entrepreneurship Development Center (EDC), Center of Management Development (CMD), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), former Nigeria Industrial Development Bank (NIDB), Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry (NBCI), Nigerian University Commission (NUC), National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (NOAS), Small and Medium Enterprise Development Association of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Small and Medium Enterprises Equation Scheme (SMEDAN), Small and Medium Enterprises Equation Scheme (SMEDAN

The Nigerian government and policymakers are increasingly struggling to deal with graduate unemployment. The high percentage of unemployment can be attributed to a lack of suitable preparation for job creation in development plans, ever-expanding educational growth, and a frantic desire on the part of adolescents to get University education regardless of course and course content. As a result, many talents learned in university appear to be obsolete and unnecessary. With each passing academic year, the country’s universities produce an increasing number of graduates. The NYSC mobilizes around 250,000 graduates each year. In 2012, however, 227,136 corps members served.

Since its inception in 1973, the National Youth Service Corps Scheme and the organization that administers it have been a true weapon for promoting national unity. The scheme has been reengineered and reloaded with the goal of realigning its programs and contents to better fulfill its tasks and obligations. The program has increased its efforts to develop regulations that would allow corps members to provide selfless service to the nation in a safe environment while also preparing them for future leadership roles and the challenges of post-service life. Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development is one of the policies.

The inclusion of Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development training for corps members is intended to guarantee that they become job creators rather than job seekers. The project is anticipated to spark an industrial revolution in the country in the long run. The scheme’s Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development push is divided into two parts: Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development. The first component focuses on providing interested corps members with particular technical/vocational abilities in specified skill sets based on individual interest, whilst the latter focuses on building corps members’ business/enterprise capacity. Agro-allied, Food Preservation, Culture and Tourism, Cosmetology, Information Communication Technology (ICT), Environment, Beautification, Construction, Education, Power and Energy, Film and Photography, and Automobile are now being taught to Corps members.

The National Youth Service Corps works with a variety of national and international organizations to ensure that the scheme’s objectives are met. These organizations supply the program with materials, technical assistance, and financial support. The initiative has memorandums of understanding inked with the Bank of Industry (BOI), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and others. To support the initiative’s objectives, 285,000 corps members have been trained through the skill development program (The Source Magazine, 2016).

According to Small Business Service (2005), having entrepreneurial abilities to build new knowledge-based social companies is critical to effectively tackling social and environmental challenges. In the wake of the global financial crisis, entrepreneurship is a critical pillar of economic growth and development, job creation, and poverty reduction (Unachukwu, 2009). As a result, Nigeria cannot afford to play about with the subject of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship skill acquisition, and entrepreneurship skill development.

Statement of the Problem

The purpose of this research was to determine the value of the National Youth Service Corps skill training program in reducing unemployment in Nigeria. In the past, commercial and public organizations (employers) looked for suitable employees to hire. Employers would go around universities and polytechnics looking for suitable graduates. There were fewer universities and polytechnics back then, and enrollment was far lower than it is now. Currently, around 1.8 million young people graduate from Tertiary Institutions each year. Major industries in Nigeria have ceased operations owing to power outages, government regulations, and other economic factors that may have prompted them to expand their operations or hire additional workers.

The issue of a lack of expertise and experience is critical when considering graduates for any given work or profession. According to Ekong (2008), institutions of higher learning in Nigeria have focused more on theoretical and abstract instructional delivery, focusing mainly on cognitive growth and thus producing non-entrepreneurial trained graduates for the labor market. The lack of a relationship between the needs (administrative/technical/course content, etc.) of universities and employers of labor could not influence the undergraduate curriculum to allow the fresh graduate to be employed by organizations.

The Supervised Industrial Training Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) was intended to expose our students to the labor market prior to graduation, but it has been hampered by a lack of planning, oversight, and corruption. Corruption has an impact on employment in Nigeria, both in the public and private sectors. Who you know and how much you can pay may influence your chances of being hired.

The Nigerian government has been working with private investors to support the practice of entrepreneurship skill acquisition and development, but little progress has been accomplished thus far. This is due to the young undergraduates’ attitude, lack of understanding, and misconceptions about entrepreneurship. Because of this issue, the National Youth Service Corps established the Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition Program for corps members to use as a training time throughout their service year.

Despite past administrations’ efforts to eliminate unemployment, the situation of Nigerian graduates remains deplorable. As a result, the purpose of this research is to look into the role of the NYSC skill acquisition program in lowering Nigeria’s unemployment rate.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which the Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development training of the National Youth Service Corps have helped to reduce unemployment in Nigeria. The study focuses on:

1. Ascertaining the extent to which the National Youth Service Corps skill acquisition programme have helped to reduce unemployment;

2. To examine the relevance of skill acquisition training to requirements expected for recruitment of undergraduates into various organizations in need of their services; and

3. To ascertain government commitment to funding the programme and the roles played by government through their agencies for the training of graduates under National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.

Research Questions

1. Has the National Youth Service Corps Skill Acquisition programme been able to reduce the growing rate of unemployment?

2. Are the skills being thought relevant to the needs of the various organisations?

3. Is the programme adequately funded by government to achieve its set objectives?

Significance of the Study

There has been tremendous growth in graduate unemployment as well as the demand for university education in Nigeria. This study provides the basis for which graduates in search of employment or self-employment are able to face the challenges of unemployment plaguing the country.

The study also provides a comprehensive view of the achievement of National Youth Service Corps Scheme as an instrument of job creation in the socio-economic development of graduates and the overall national development of the country.

Theoretically, it contributes significantly to the existing literature on the subject matter. It also provides information on the effectiveness of the National Youth Service Corps in the reduction of unemployment in Nigeria. Data were made available on the number of graduates so far trained on Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition and their availability for employment in organisations.

The findings of this study would make provision for research information on Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition programme of the government and its agencies which is at present not enough in literature. That is, there is not enough research information on the government contribution towards the effectiveness of the National Youth Service Corps Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme as well as its constraints.

The study will benefit policy making by ensuring that effective and efficient policies are proposed to government for the enhancement of and sustainability of the skill acquisition programme for graduates during their service year to reduce mass poverty and unemployment in the country.

The Corps members will be professionally trained on various skills that are relevant for their survival in the growing unpredictable economic environment. They would have been trained in certain skills that will make them job creators thereby avoiding poverty and unemployment. They too will become employers of our youths for the various jobs created by them.

Lastly, the study would make useful contributions to the general readers and researchers who want to study on the same topic or any related topics on Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development.

Scope of Study

The main focus of the study was to take a critical assessment of the National Youth Service Corps in facilitating youth employment. The National Youth Service Corps has different programmes for skill acquisition and other programmes for job creation. The programmes are targeted at impacting skill and creating jobs for both graduates and non-graduates. Some programmes are designed for both groups. Therefore, the target of this study was limited to graduates only. These include graduate students from Universities and Polytechnics currently serving within Surulere Local Government Area of Lagos State.

Definition of Terms

The following terms in the study are defined as follows:-

Skill acquisition: This is the training of a person on a particular task or function thereby making him/her an expert in it.

Unemployed: This refers to the numbers of economically active graduates who are without work but are available for and seeking work, including people who have lost jobs or voluntarily left work.

Unemployment: This is when people are without jobs.

Unemployment Rate: This is a measure of the level of unemployment and it’s calculated as a percentage of dividing the number of unemployed individuals by all individuals currently constituting the labour force.

Entrepreneurship: This refers to the capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit and be self-employed.

Entrepreneurship skill development: These are the training given to the entrepreneur. It includes personal characteristics, interpersonal skills, critical and creative thinking skills and practical skills.

Poverty: This is referred to as a condition in which a person or group of persons are unable to satisfy their most basic and elementary requirements for human survival in terms of good nutrition, clothing, shelter, health, education, recreation, and others.

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