The Centre for Entrepreneurship Studies, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike was established in response to the growing graduate unemployability, underemployment or unemployment with all its attendant social ills, and also in response to the Federal Government’s call through the National Universities Commission of Introduction entrepreneurship education into the curricula of Nigerian universities to address the above issue.
There is no doubt entrepreneurship in Nigeria is now a growing movement, a movement for school leavers/graduates” self-employment and job creation, employment and employability in general workplaces in society. All over the world, the unemployment rate among young people is assuming a critical dimension – an International Labour Office (ILO)’s estimated 85 million youth employment and 25% annual increase occurring over the last ten years. In Nigeria, in particular, the situation is pitifully more alarming. Nigeria’s youthful population is about 80 million, which is about 65% of her total population, of which 85% are unemployed whilst about 12% are under-employed. The very few of them that are employed are overburdened with family and extended family dependence. The sorry tale about the Nigeria’s youth unemployment or jobless situation is that it is not due to non availability of jobs but rather to the unemployability of the youths particularly the graduates in the labour market.
One implication is a radical rethink of the university general curriculum, culminating in a curriculum tinkering in favour of job-and-work-oriented alternative university education, curricular inclusion and exclusion in favour of entrepreneurship. Meanwhile our university education system is down and out as virtually all the universities operate strictly professionally-oriented curricula that are devoid of entrepreneurial studies, whilst an alarming number of its able and qualified graduates, well able to make a difference in a world of work and self employment with their creativity and innovativeness, remain unemployed, underemployed or unemployable. Many of our small business or entrepreneurial opportunities, much of the country’s oil, gas, bitumen, limestone, iron ore, columbite, gold, coal, gypsum, etc. and their ailed cottage Industries and small factories remain untapped due to lack of right entrepreneurial acumen by our unemployed or underemployed university graduates.
The national crusade for related solutions was embodied in the past government’s National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) at both Federal and state levels, with a focus on poverty reduction, employment generation, wealth creation and value re-orientation. The NEEDS programme was soon contaminated with the usual Nigerian factor characterized by political bigotry, bribery and corruption, accountability problem, and so on. Hence many of our university graduates still roam and streets of Lagos, Abuja and other big cities in search of nonexistent Jobs, with no regard to the overwhelming alternatives in entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship involves identifying a brand new business opportunity, starting it and seeing to its growth in most cases. Entrepreneurial Studies enable students to acquire certain personal characteristics and enabling qualifies skills, expertise, attitudes and aptitudes, including functional management skills needed for successful entrepreneurial ventures within or outside one’s area of specialization or professional calling. In a nascent University education system, bereft of clear job and work curriculum orientations, but poised for university autonomy, individual universities make a lot of difference. The National Universities Commission has given a nod to Entrepreneurship Studies In the entire nation’s university curriculum and MOUAU has joined the first few universities to respond accordingly and fully. The new divide in the Nigerian university education will be between those with properly Integrated Entrepreneurship Studies into their general curriculum and those without.