THE QUALITY OF NIGERIAN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS GRADUATES: PERCEPTION OF EMPLOYERS
The study investigated perception of Employers of the quality of employed Nigeria tertiary graduates in Warri metropolitan Area of Delta State. The study sample population was made up of 120 respondents who were all heads of private or public organisations. A total of seven (5) research questions were raised out of which four (1) was answered and the other four (4) questions were hypothesised. Consequently, four (4) hypotheses were raised and analysed. The study found that: Employers of labour in both private and public sectors of the economy in Warri metropolis of Delta State rated the performance of graduates of tertiary education to be fairly good; the study also found that there was there was no significant difference between observed graduates skills and employers expectation; another finding of the study was that there was no significant difference in graduates’ skills for male and female graduates; there was difference the job performance of graduates trained in part-time and full-time programmes; another finding of the study was that there was difference in the perception of private and public employers of the quality of graduates. Based on the data analysed and findings of the study, the researcher concluded graduates skills were fairly good but training may be required to meet specific organisational needs. The researcher also concluded that males and females perform equally on their jobs while it is upheld that graduates in part-time and full-time programmes have differential performance on their jobs. And that because of the specific needs of private and public organizations, their perception of tertiary graduates differed.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page i
Table of Contents viii
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study 1
Statement of Problem 6
Research Questions 8
Purpose of Study 9
Significance of the Study 10
Scope and Delimitation of Study 12
Definition of Terms 13
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
The Concept of Higher Education 15
Graduates’ quality and Higher Education 21
Employers’ Perception of Quality 25
Employers’ Needs/Expectations 28
Relationship between Graduates’ Quality and Employers’
Graduates’ Quality in Part-time and Full-time Graduates 33
Ensuring Quality/High Quality 41
CHAPTER THREE: METHOD OF STUDY
Research Design 50
Sample and Sampling Technique 51
Method of Data Collection and Analysis 54
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSES, PRESENTATION,
INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION
Response Rate 55
Data Analysis 56
Analysis of Research Questions 57
Analysis of Hypotheses 58
Discussion of Findings 62
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND
Summary of the Research Findings 70
Background to the study
A major problem in Nigeria today is the unemployment of tertiary graduates. There are thousands of students that graduate every year from various tertiary institutions with good/honorary degrees; yet without employment. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) (2010), unemployment in Nigeria is running at around 19.7 percent on average… and almost half of 15-24 year olds living in urban areas are jobless. The secondary-school graduates was said to consist of the principal fraction of the unemployed, accounting for nearly 35% to 50%; 40% for age group within 20 to 24years and 31% for 15 to 19 years. As imperfect as this statistics may be, it’s still does not tell a good story.
At a seminar with the theme: Youth, Employment Creation and Shared Growth in Africa held at the just concluded African Development Bank (AfDB’s) annual meetings in Lisbon, Portugal, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, noted that most of the things students are thought in schools today is quite different from what is needed in the labour market.
The rate of development in Nigeria has been on a very slow pace because of this. This slow development has been as a result of the low rate of production. And the low rate of production has been adduced to the incompetence of recent tertiary graduates. Questions have arisen as to why the case is like this. Some adduced reasons were that:
There are three major challenges currently facing the education sector in the country which apparently are the reason for the poor performance of the sub-sector. These challenges include: incessant lecturers strike resulting in massive brain drain, lack of teaching facilities in schools and poor funding.
– there are not enough vacancies to match the large number of graduates
– graduates’ specialization do not correspond with organizational needs in Nigeria
– the graduates are technically incompetent/of low quality. The author further emphasised that the president stressed the need for universities to focus attention to courses that could make graduates, creators of jobs rather than joining the pool of unemployed youths in the labour market, saying “We now need graduates who are problem-solvers and job creators, and whose characters will be enviable and unimpeachable at all times.” This study is basically concerned with the last adduced reason.
It is said that employers complain that these graduates are poorly prepared for work. They believe that academic standard has fallen over the past decades and that their degrees are no longer a guarantee of communication skills or technical competence. The essence of this project therefore is to determine if these tertiary graduates are meeting the expectations of their employers or not.
According to Andrew et.al (2000) a large mismatch appears to exist between university output and labor market demand.
Their findings showed that the employment prospects of recent graduates have recently deteriorated. This is due to the weak Nigerian economy, the policy environment and inadequate level of skilled human resources, especially the quality of the tertiary trained portion of the workforce. The claim is that employers are not satisfied with the quality of graduates produced by the tertiary institutions and that they always have to retrain them before they become useful to their companies. So this project sets out to determine if the quality of tertiary graduates is as low as claimed or high. This deteriorating quality perception is supported by results from empirical research.
There is a reported a lower rating on the “reputation” of first generation Nigerian university graduates. They expressed a belief that the quality of university education has fallen. Studies by several researchers show that those who graduated in the 1980s gave more favorable ratings to questions regarding availability of study resources than those who graduated in the 1990s. This goes to show that study materials are lacking for the recent generation of graduates.
Many scholars have found that graduates of Nigerian universities rated supervised practical work and quality of academic advice received as very poor.
A casual interview of graduates in engineering, management and the sciences show that only few find most of the theories they learn in schools applicable in their daily work. In particular, graduates rated the practical aspects of their education very poorly. If this is so, it means the school syllabus is obsolete.
The present Nigeria graduate is a direct product of our society, a reflection of the decay and a mirror image of the loss of morals and values. These findings illustrate the wide gap that exists between what is taught in the universities and what the world of work requires. Stakeholders believe that it is the responsibility of our educational system to provide graduates with the background and skills necessary to be successful in their chosen fields of endeavor.
For this reason, when employers recruit graduates, they look for graduates from institutions with curricula that use new technology and emphasize current practices. One of the means to this end is a serious academic research orientation among the academic staffs in Nigerian institutions of higher learning. It is also a known fact that Nigerian public institutions have high enrolments without enough qualified instructors.
Although most employers are unhappy with the quality of graduates Nigerian tertiary institutions have turned out in recent times. They are well aware of the causes. Many employers are quick to state that the quality of these graduates is simply a reflection of the quality of academic staff, learning resources (libraries, laboratories, etc.) and funding limitations. A solution to the problems of staff quality is critical to any improvement in the quality of university graduates. The decline of staff quality is reflected in high rates of “brain drain,” the declining numbers of professors and assistant professors within the university system and their falling levels of post-graduate preparation. Andrew, et al. (2000) views the financial stability of the universities as tied to the fiscal fortunes of the state.
In the last two decades the federal budget has not been stable. It is tied closely to oil revenues, which have been unstable. The consequences of unstable funding are reflected in poorly-equipped laboratories, out-dated libraries, poorly- remunerated staff, crumbling academic facilities, and low research output. And these are the things that will build the quality of the graduates, positively or negatively.
Statement of Problem
The quality of tertiary institutions’ graduates has been called to question severally by politicians, educational stakeholders and employers of labour (who also are the end users of the graduates’ services). There are reports that federal government would soon establish a special mechanism to rate each university in the country based on the quality of their products, particularly in terms of the quality of their graduates and outputs.
Experts in the educational sub-sector have blamed the high dependence of the industrial sector on low technical expertise and high rate of unemployment bedeviling the nation’s economy on the inability of Nigeria’s polytechnics and other tertiary institutions to produce the much-required technical manpower in the sub-sector sector. The complaint is that graduates performances are of low quality due to their low technical competence and therefore they don’t measure up with employer’s expectations.
Many therefore see an urgent need for institutions to be more active to their responsibilities in terms of reaching out to industries that will meet their requirements so that graduates from the nation’s universities and polytechnics will be efficiently utilized by the industrial sector.