Education and Entrepreneurship: An Antidote for Unemployment, Underemployment and Economic Growth in
Many see education as the alpha and omega of self development but actually education is merely a means to the end and not the end itself. In the same vein, many place acquisition of entrepreneurship skills above obtaining formal education but failed to understand that education is the backbone of any entrepreneurship success. The society as they say passes through some series of evolution and the African society is not an exception. Prior to colonial rule in West Africa, every family and society held entrepreneurship in high esteem. Every family tried as much as possible to subject their children/youth to various forms of training based on the family tradition. The education during that period was merely informal as it happened naturally. With the advent of colonial rule, there was a paradigm shift in regard to that. Colonialism brought with it formal education which made Africa to forget the great role played by entrepreneurship development in the primitive society. Attention shifted from acquisition of skills for self employment to acquisition of knowledge for paid employment. This recent trend has deteriorated Africa's unemployment situation and generally, her GDP. It is now believed by many that African universities now produce unemployed youths who add to the dependent population instead of graduates who add to their respective country's workforce. Different measures taken by different governments to curb this omen has proved to be abortive simply not because of the wrong approach to the stated problem but because the mindset of the target population (youths) has not been altered from the grassroots. Many parents still tell their children that education is the only key to success without realising that in the current economic, cultural and social dispensation, the padlock still has one lock but now with two-pronged key, with first prong representing education and the other entrepreneurship skills. Without the two prongs being on equal balance, the chances of success under normal circumstances is not guaranteed.
No government in a capitalist or mixed economy can employ more than 30 per cent of its citizens. Since the government doesn't have that ability to absorb everybody who is willing and able to work, acquiring formal education alone has over the years led to a sharp increase in unemployment while being an entrepreneur without formal education has led to an increase in underemployment. Underemployment which defines a situation whereby labour or other factors of production is underutilised, causes a nation to operate below it's potential GDP. Over the years, it has been discovered that most successive individuals are those who have inventive and innovative minds; those that can make something out of nothing and those that change the normal ways of doing things into something new, better and desirable. Majority of this kind of people can be found in highly industrialised countries like USA, Germany, Britain etc. These are countries where its citizens try to maintain a perfect blend of the two. Education alone gives you the ability to think critically about your environment and identify the need of the society but without entrepreneurship ability, you may never come up with a proper solution to the identified problem. On the other hand, having entrepreneurship skills alone without formal education limits the individual's horizon and ability to identify and explore opportunities available.
If a proper conglomeration of education and entrepreneurship is to be pursued vigorously, Africans have to start the enlightenment from the scratch and it has to start now. Africa as a continent is in it's worst decade of unemployment and stagnant GDP. With a two digit unemployment rate and a negative economic growth for successive quarters in many African countries, there's a need to address the problem while we still can. Proper orientation will start from the family before it gets to the national level. Children should be made to understand why they should be job creators and not job seekers, that will change their mindset as they grow. This will have a multiplier effect on the economy because it will bring about sustainable development and unemployment/underemployment will be a thing of the past.