While other countries experience ageism with older folks, Nigeria has a unique case, with age discrimination affecting its youth.
With age limits for entry level jobs at an average of 26 years, some instances report age criteria as low as 23 years.
The effects on the economy include fueling youth unemployment already estimated at a disturbing 37%. Add this to the brain drain caused by increased emigration to Canada and the situation looks bleak for the estimated 2 million Nigerian graduates that join the Labour market each year.
With the age of graduation rising due to obtaining entry into undergraduate programmes much later. The key reasons cited for this rise are the failure of the university admission systems, persistent lecturer strikes and compulsory 1 year service to the country after graduation. The harsh reality is, joining the workforce earlier than 27 years is merely a dream for the majority of the youth graduate population with the exception being those who can afford the private university fees or universities outside the country.
No doubt the issue of age criteria in hiring is strongly related to the phenomenon of age falsification. Studies have labelled age falsification as a wide spread culture in the Nigeria work place as many employees present sworn affidavits claiming ages lower than their actual age.
With several state government terminating employment after revelations of wide spread age falsification. It is now estimated that up to 60% the of the Nigeria workforce falsify their age.
It’s a vicious circle, a failed system and people trying to beat the already flawed system.
With a recently passed May 2019 bill, ending age discrimination in the public sector, we definitely need this bill amended to include the private sector.
HR Professionals and Law makers, this is our turf, we can help and make a difference to lighten the unemployment woes experienced by fresh graduates.
We must come together to right this wrong.