28.2% of Tech Professionals in Nigeria are Unemployed

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Nigeria currently has over 187 thousand tech professionals. However, only about 28% of them are unemployed while 27.6% of them are under-employed, according to the recently released data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Tech professionals include Software developer/engineer, user support specialist, Networking, systems analyst and system security workers.

The report also shows that tech professions are more favourable than first degree or HND holders in the job market but PhD Holders are the most attractive.

NBS revealed that HND and degree holders have an unemployment rate of 40.1%, while PhD holders have the lowest in terms of educational status – 16.9%.

28.2% of Tech Professionals in Nigeria are Unemployed  - NBS Report
Tech Professional stats Q4 2020

Tech professionals have one of the lowest unemployment rates globally

Despite the high unemployment rate among tech professionals in Nigeria, tech professionals have one of the lowest unemployment rates internationally – 14.8%. In comparison, the level of unemployment of tech professionals in the US is just 2.8%.

Similarly, in the UK the tech profession showed resilience despite the unemployment rate generally rising to 4.1%. According to Tech Nation, the sector employed almost three million people – nearly 10% of the entire UK workforce.

28.2% of Tech Professionals in Nigeria are Unemployed  - NBS Report

Male employment remains highest in the Tech profession

In terms of gender, male professionals are more employed in the tech profession. However, this is not surprising as its the male that dominates the sector.

According to eConomy Africa 2020, there are about 83,609 software developers in Nigeria. Of the total, just 18% are female while the remaining 82% are male.

Asides from the fact that this shows the biggest tech profession in Nigeria is Software development, it also shows the low participation of the female gender in the tech profession.

In total, Tech professionals just accounts for 0.22% of Nigeria’s unemployed population

28.2% of Tech Professionals in Nigeria are Unemployed  - NBS Report

Nigeria’s unemployment levels hit record 33%

In general, the unemployment rate in Nigeria hit a record 33.3% in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020. This a rise from 27.1% recorded in Q2, 2020.

Nigeria’s unemployment rate stands at 33.3% the highest in the country’s history.

Female unemployment is still the highest with 35.2%. The unemployment rate for Males is 31.8%. Notably, women (61.6 million) have a larger working population in the country than men (60.4 million).

A breakdown of rates by states shows that Imo State reported the highest rate of unemployment with 56.6%. This was followed by Adamawa and Cross River States with 54.9% and 53.7% respectively.

The State with the lowest rate was Osun with 11.7%. Lagos State on its part recorded the lowest underemployment rate, with 4.5% in Q4, 2020. Benue state recorded the highest underemployment rate with 43.5%,

28.2% of Tech Professionals in Nigeria are Unemployed  - NBS Report

Nigeria among the Top 50 countries with the highest unemployment rate

Nigeria currently ranks as the 41st country with the highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the NBS, Nigeria’s current unemployment rate of 11.7% was calculated using the International Labour Organisation’s standard of 1-hour work per week.

The countries with the highest unemployment rates presently are Bosnia and Herzegovinian (34.3%), Namibia (33.4%), and Angola (32.0%). Countries with the lowest rates are Qatar (0.1%), Belarus (0.2%), and Niger (0.3%).

28.2% of Tech Professionals in Nigeria are Unemployed  - NBS Report

The IMF World Economic Outlook Database however shows that South Africa (36.9%) and West Bank and Gaza (32.2%) has the highest unemployment rates.

In comparison, the US recorded an unemployment rate of 5.37% while the UK recorded an unemployment rate of 8.89 % in 2020. The report also shows that Nigeria had a rate of 22.5% in 2018.

Following the trend in the NBS report, it means that the rate using the IMF scale can be up above 30%. This can be interpreted as an even higher ranking on the global unemployment rate list.

Possible cause of Nigeria’s unemployment hike

The COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role in the rise of unemployment rates across the world. For Nigeria, in the six months between Q2 and Q4, the unemployment rate rose 6.2%.

Asides from COVID-19, industry stakeholders in the country have revealed that unemployability is also a factor greatly undermining the employment rate.

Sharing their thoughts, a Twitter user going by King Phlame expressed difficulty finding qualified people for his clients. “I’ve finally hit a wall with this for my clients in Abuja. 5 different roles and yet, you can’t find people. From previous experience, you find people who can not self manage. You give instructions and guidance, they list 10 reasons why it cannot be done.

28.2% of Tech Professionals in Nigeria are Unemployed  - NBS Report

Another user complained that most people seeking employment are not employable. “Finding people who would be right fit takes a lot in Nigeria, even after so much is invested in training and mentorship, most of them won’t even commit for a long time no matter the incentives involved.”

However, not everyone agrees with them as Twitter user Ken, expressed that entry jobs that many Nigerians are eligible for no longer exist. He explained that the job experience required for some positions are just ridiculous.

Brian, another user agreed with him, insisting that recruiters want ready-made workers. “It’s either 5-7 years experience or 1-3 years experience requiring skills one is supposed to acquire in 5 years. Not one firm is ready to train, you must come fully prepared even for entry level jobs.”

Another user Yemisi, gave an example of a where one person is expected to have an impossible amount of skills.

“Because in some cases, talent that exists is over-stretched. 1person – Graphic designer, Content marketer, front-end developer, digital marketer, Product designer, UI/UX, wordpress expert, video editor, social media manager, motion designer, copywriter One person!”

Yemisi, a Twitter user

In general, the rise in the unemployment rate is not entirely equivalent to an increase in job losses or lack of Jobs. It also means an influx of new graduates into the labour market.

Summary

Global businesses have long relied on tech professionals in far-flung locations for technology services, but until a few years ago African techies hadn’t been on their radar.

Now, with over 400 tech jobs that range from software engineering to mobile money to blockchain technology, the African tech space is booming. This has translated to more work for tech professionals both within and outside the country.

However, if the NBS report is anything to go by, there is still a large number of tech professionals without jobs.


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