First Class: The Theories, The Harsh Realities & The Graduate In The Nigerian Labour Space



Social media is a good thing! A lot can be done via social media and online and a lot of people have been catching up to this vast possibilities of this new media. Lately, a lady that had or do I say graduated with a first class degree was appealing for a job via Twitter ! She has been jobless for over two years and was contemplating learning tailoring work. It is alleged that she studied something close to physics or electronics but a science based course and a tech one indeed!

This singular act has shown how we have gone down in education and also how the paradigm have shifted in the Nigerian ecosystem from certificate oriented to value adding labour space.

Today, most employers wouldn’t give a heck about your paper certificates! If you have attended most interviews these days ,the most popular questions that owners and founders, start up firms or big firms would ask is ” what can you do if we employers you ” what would you be offering the firm of you are hired ” and ” how can you be of value to this firm if you are hired ” these are the type of questions that are being thrown at you irrespective of your degree or leaning. No CEO cares about your grades at that time but the growth of the organisation and he isn’t employing you based on sentiment but based in your capabilities as you must have advertised in your resume. I am not saying that grades are not important. We shouldn’t get it twisted, they are important and they are added value to you but as the narrative is changing ,people with better value proposition and hands on experience would have a better chance of securing a job than the dude with fancy grades.

You know , when we were in school those days…people were trying, hutsling and itching for a good CGPA, well, that is good…first class isn’t a bad idea. It gives the individual the bragging rights ,especially to the kids but that is where it ends! What matters is what have you been able to do with it ,are you an employee of labour , adding value to the organisation you are working or are you speaking big grammar in some obscure places?

It’s a funny country you know , First class degree then ,used to be a one way ticket to wealth and life of lounging and good jobs. Those days, during the time of Daddy, I mean 1970s – 1980s and maybe 1990s early, once you hit the first class mark…go home and sleep. Jobs would come , women would come and you will start family earlier….in the 1960s any degree is a guarantee that it would be a Rosy life! Teachers training Certificate ( TTC ) was a “cool” thing in the 1950 – 1970s but today standards have changed! Disruptors have messed or disrupted everything. You don’t need to have a degree in finance to be a banker, the software guy and programmer is more needed in the banking space more than the banking and finance graduate. This is the realities of life, in an age where Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning is taking over jobs, we are not competing not only with ourselves but with machines ! So, a quick one , First class or Msc isn’t a guarantor or surety to that life you envisaged.

Some time ago, Dangote, one of the foremost industrialist in Nigeria, I don’t even know if he has a first-class or that fancy degree before he hit the streets in the 70s ,he wanted to recruit truck drivers and mind you truck driving isn’t a fancy job. Guess what ! Bsc and Msc degrees applied for truck driving jobs! It’s no longer news that jobs aren’t available and the need for that graduate to understand that theories that is been dishes out in University is totally different from what is applicable in the real life. Sometimes the laws of Adam Smith and Malthus wouldn’t be applicable in the Nigerian ecosystem but instead of adopting and creating their own laws, Nigerian University graduate would insist on that book knowledge,especially the first class student with their sublime language….the more reason they end up lecturers than employers of labour. How many first class are owners of firms, CEO and founders ? Compare it with the HND, second class lower degree folks and others.

This is 2017! A lot have changed! The narratives are changing the Dynamics have changed forevermore! It would never be the same again….today, Bsc and Msc are riding okada for a living while the little or poorly educated folks are running the show…and as we say in theatre , the show must go on !

Not that education isn’t important again, but employers have come to the hard truth that certificates in Nigeria isn’t worth it and they are looking for value not paper certificates. The question is what value would you bring to the table when you are offered that opportunity to work irrespective of the certificate. This is what defines you, not your grades or the school you graduated from. A lot of instances abound where graduates couldn’t deliver! The Kaduna teachers fiasco is a good case study of what has gone awry in the national education system. The lecturers are blaming the government and busy striking without upgrading their knowledge. The Nigerian lecturers are one of the laziest in Africa with hand out mentality and Aluta Continua attitude. As the government and lecturers battles for supremacy, the young student suffers due to lack of exposure ( no exchange program ) lack of up to date curriculum and lack of self development occasioned by University environment such as cultism and prostitution! At the end of the day, the young graduates ( mostly ,not all) becomes a burden to the employer . There is need for the young ones to understand the importance of self development . Life wouldn’t judge you based on your CGPA or your grade but how you can add value to life. This is what I have come to understand about the Nigeria labour space and there is nothing we can do about it. It is either you evolve or you dissolve .

Tony Nwosu

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