ENTREPRENEURIAL EDUCATION AS A TOOL FOR REDUCING UNEMPLOYMENT IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Entrepreneurial education is the incorporation into the student syllabus steps involved in starting a new business based on a recognized business opportunity as well as operating and maintaining that business. The belief of some people is that entrepreneurship education does not need to be taught and therefore, an entrepreneur is born to be so. It should however be noted that for one to be a successful entrepreneur, he/she needs to learn the skills (Griffin and Hammis, 2001). Entrepreneurial education is designed to teach the skills and knowledge that is needed to be known before embarking on a new business venture. This would enhance necessary identification and avoidance of many pitfalls awaiting the less well trained and vigilant contemporaries. The training in entrepreneurial education may initially be perceived as a cost in terms of time and money but it would eventually be appreciated.
Ogundele (2007) viewed the idea of entrepreneurship as a multidimensional phenomenon. It was found that the processes of emergence, behaviour and performance of indigenous entrepreneurs were separately and in combinations affected not by a single but multiple factors, in ranging degrees. These factors included economic, socio-cultural, ecological, managerial, educational developmental, experiential, technological, structural, ethical and innovative issues. He concluded that any policy designed to change entrepreneurship scenario in Nigeria will require multiple and simultaneous approaches in the development of necessary changes in the behaviour of indigenous entrepreneurs. Akeredolu-Ale (1975) examined the origin and performance of indigenous entrepreneurs. He identified 2 broad categories of factors that affected entrepreneurs. These were the environmental factors and the personal level factors. His conclusion was that the problems that were confronting the indigenous entrepreneurs in Nigeria could only be partly explained by the economic factors.
Nigeria is not left out as part of the changing world economy, which yearns for a more articulate policy on the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Most world economies are characterized by a large number of Micro/cottage, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) mainly in the informal sector. In many economies, they account for a large segment of productive population. Nigeria falls within this later category of economies. The SMEs in Nigeria account for over 95% of non-oil productive activities outside agriculture, which positions them as potentially strong agents of economic growth and sustainable development (Ubom, 2006). The federal government of Nigeria in her effort to ensure that her citizens are self-employed, established the National Directorate of Employment in 1986. It is the belief of government that this agency will reduce unemployment, which is a bane of our society. The agency’s operations include re-activation of public works, promotion of direct labour, self-employment, organization of artisans into cooperative and encouragement of culture of maintenance and repairs (Onifade, 2001).
Entrepreneurial education is regarded as a natural fit for Business education department of higher institution in Nigeria as most of the departments integrates the functional areas of business, accounting, finance, marketing, management, the legal and economic potentialities in which a new venture operates in a bid to reduce unemployment. It is therefore, important for these categories of students educated in this fields to think like an entrepreneur since they are expected to start their own businesses after graduation or work closely with entrepreneurs (Griffin and Hammis, 2003).
Entrepreneurial education also has a general education department as well as a professional entrepreneurship development and education component in Nigerian higher institutions, which is meant for all categories of students in the institution. Thus, all higher institutions in Nigeria integrates entrepreneurship education for all students irrespective of initial course admission and expect them to start their own businesses after graduation either on vocational or professional level to alleviate poverty and join in the scheme of improving their social-economy environment in particularly and beyond for self economic emancipation. They are also fit to work closely with Entrepreneurs with Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). This will go a long way to reduce unemployment in Nigeria. However, this study will examine entrepreneurial education as a tool for employment reduction in Nigeria using the undergraduates of University of Benin as a case study. The university has an accredited business education department and entrepreneurship development programme is incorporated into the syllabus of all the students irrespective of department in a bid to reduce unemployment among the future graduates.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Entrepreneurship skills acquired through entrepreneurial education has been recognized as an important aspect of organization and economies (Dickson et al, 2008). It contributes in an immeasurable ways toward creating new job, wealth creation, poverty reduction, and income generation for both government and individuals. Schumpeter in 1934 argued that entrepreneurial education is very significant to the growth and development of economies. Having understood the vital role of entrepreneurship in economic development, it become apparent that careful attention is needed to invest and promote entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, education is seen as one of the precondition for entrepreneurship development particularly in a place where the spirit and culture is very minimal. It is said to be an important determinant of selection into entrepreneurship, formation of new venture and entrepreneurial success (Dickson, Solomon and Weaver, 2008). However, it equally assumes here that there is a positive relationship between education and individual’s choice to become an entrepreneur as well as the result and outcome of his or her entrepreneurial activity. The move toward poverty reduction should not be considered and treated in isolation, different approach and strategies need to be employed. For any country to foster genuine economic growth and development, its education system must be considered as basis and essential ingredient. Education is undisputedly considered as the bedrock of any meaningful development (FGN, 2004 in Akpomi 2009), be it economic, social or political.
Adejimola and Olufunmilayo (2009) reported that about 80% of the graduates find it difficult to get employment every year. And at the same time much has not been done in trying to bring collaboration between the entrepreneurs and the institutions. However, entrepreneurial education can bridge the gap by equipping the undergraduate in becoming a successful entrepreneur thereby reducing unemployment. This study will however find out how the entrepreneurial education provided in the higher institution syllabus has prepared the students for future employment challenges.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study will examine entrepreneurial education as a tool for reducing unemployment in Nigeria while the following are the specific objectives.
To find out if entrepreneurial education has been a useful tool for reducing unemployment in Nigeria.
To ascertain if there is compulsory entrepreneurial education for all students in Nigerian higher institutions.
To find out if the available entrepreneurship education in institution can stimulate entrepreneurship skills in future graduates.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Has entrepreneurial education been a useful tool for reducing unemployment in Nigeria?
Is there a compulsory entrepreneurial education for all students in Nigerian higher institutions?
Has the available entrepreneurship education in institution stimulated entrepreneurship skills in future graduates?
Ho: Entrepreneurial education cannot serve as a useful tool for reducing employment in Nigeria
H1: Entrepreneurial education can serve as a useful tool for reducing employment in Nigeria
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study brings to the fore the crucial need for entrepreneurial education in Nigeria, putting more consideration on the educational system, strategies and its eventual social developmental effect in the society.
The study highlights the problems of the level of education in the country and its equivalence to level of poverty in the society by virtue of lack of employment or knowledge of how to startup businesses; the resultant effect of which is a society that breeds healthy partnership and motivation, impacting on the development in the nation.
However, the contribution of this research work to knowledge identifies what is important to the economy, which is qualitative entrepreneurial education focused on the needs of the economy per time, rather than the resolution of the United Nations to increase budgetary details, increasing the people that go through school. This is not the study on entrepreneurial education; however, it contribute to the body of literature on the subject area and brings to light the results in order to ascertain which strategy would eventually work for the Nigerian economy in truly eradicating unemployment in Nigeria.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study examines the role of entrepreneurial education in the unemployment reduction and social development of Nigeria, its significance in the stimulation of the entrepreneurship skills in future graduates in order to reduce unemployment in Nigeria. The study considered the undergraduates of the current university teaching system (University of Benin), from third to the final year, assumably those who gained admission into the university in the last three (3) years. The study considers entrepreneurial skills of undergraduate to be relevant because of its immediate impact on the future of Nigeria.