1.1      Background to the Study

Education is the process of learning and training; it is an instrument for change and development. Education is the springboard to socio-economic growth and development of every nation. It prepares an individual to live in a dynamic or constantly changing society and contribute to such changes and constantly advance the survival, growth and development of the society (Nwaham, 2010). Education generally, is a social process that helps to maintain a dynamic society since the creation of human beings. Observing this, Onyeachu (2006) noted that it is through education that the cultural heritages are transferred from generation to generation. Education is the most powerful instrument in the world because no nation has ever attained fame or a particular height in terms of development without education as its bedrock, which is engendered by sound educational ideals. Thus Onwumere (2006) saw education as the springboard for socio-political, economic and cultural development that enhances the production of skilled manpower for national development. There are informal and formal system of education, the formal structure of education should be encouraged. On the other hand, obtaining certificate alone without a corresponding creative and mental power have no serious bearing on the purpose of education (Uloko, 2010). Education as parameter, registers the tempo of change and as well the rapid transformation of any society (Akpojena, 2010). There is high increase in the demand for education at all levels in Nigeria that promotes skills acquisition for survival in the society; by the same token, it is through such education that the acquired skills can be transferred into business development, which will in turn contribute to economic growth and development in Nigeria. And such education is entrepreneurship education.

However, despite the recognition of entrepreneurship as having the potential to curb unemployment among Nigerian youth and the introduction of entrepreneurship education in Nigerian universities, about 80% of the Nigerian youth are unemployed and about 10% are under employed with 7 out of 10 graduates remaining unemployed or underemployed (Dike, 2009). As the former minister of labour and productivity Adelokunbo Kayode has asserted, “the greatest challenge confronting government today remains massive unemployment which has served as a breeding ground for anti-social vices” in Nigeria (Olayinka, 2010).

In today’s competitive and challenging global world with diverse demands, many countries are facing serious problems of graduate unemployment (Adesina, 2013). As a result, the higher education sectors are under immense pressure from governments, employers and parents to produce quality graduates that can be economically engaged at the individual, national and global level (Teichler, 2007). Such graduates should possess a combination of attributes that will enable them to take an adaptive and proactive approach to their careers (Bezuidenhout, 2011). While there is consensus worldwide on the importance of addressing employability within higher education, there remains some debate on how best this can be achieved (Harvey, and Morey, 2002). This paper will suggest initiatives to be taken by the to make sure that every stakeholder (including the government, higher education institutions, industry and commerce, employers, professional bodies, parents and the students) play its part in ensuring that graduates are able to find or create employment sustainably.

Although many countries are faced with problems of unemployment in general (Adesina, 2013), the scope of this paper is limited to graduate employability. A graduate here refers to someone who has a bachelor’s or higher degree from a higher education institution (HEI). The rationale for focusing on graduate employability arises from the realisation that governments, employers and communities are increasingly interested in what HEIs have to offer as a source of recruitment and for the development of existing employees (Keech, 2006). In part, this has been driven by a growing awareness of the potential of HEIs in the development of knowledge based economies and driving innovation and national development (Escrigas 2008).

Ayodele, 2006 Unachukwu (2009) identifies the challenges to entrepreneurship education in Nigeria to include: finance, manpower and education, data, inadequate infrastructures and entrepreneurial attitude. She advocates the need for entrepreneurial education for the youth. The government at all tiers; the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), professional bodies like Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria and the academia have been attracted to it. In particular, some universities are redesigning their curricula and the ways they operate to create opportunities for the training of their students in practical entrepreneurial skills. The Federal Government of Nigeria issues directive through the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) to all Universities in the country to establish Centres for Entrepreneurship Development to coordinate the offering of a benchmark entrepreneurship course to all students in Nigerian universities.

Therefore, the NUC has made course on entrepreneurship development (CED) to be mandatory for all Nigerian graduates irrespective of their disciplines since year 2000.The strategic objectives of the national policy are to: (1) improve the capacity of youths to develop positive independent and innovative thought process and overall entrepreneurial mind-set and (2) the development of vocational skills to stimulate future graduates towards venture and wealth creation. A recent survey of university undergraduates on their perception of CED by one of the authors reveals these objectives might be far from being achieved given the present traditional model. However, due to the way entrepreneurial programmes have assumed a global proliferation and dimension, it was suggested by Volkmann (2004) that entrepreneurship will become “the major academic discipline for business education in the 21st century”.

1.2      Statement of the Problem

Nigerian tertiary institutions produce millions of graduates annually into an economy which is already overpopulated, thereby raising the level of unemployment. It is on this note that the government in conjunction with its agencies tends to introduce skills acquisition programme in order to correct this anomaly and also ensure that these newly graduated students become self-reliant and prepare for them a future which will in turn devoid the economy of miscreants.

Experience over the years has revealed that seventy percent of these graduates end up roaming about the streets as a result of lack of job opportunities. The unemployment rate in the country (Nigeria) keeps escalating as each year comes by as a result of continuous injection of graduates who have no jobs to do at the end of the day. This situation has become so pathetic because job seekers/applicants end up going back to their aged parents who have invested in them, hoping that someday, they will get back the dividends of their investments but all to no avail. This cankerworm (unemployment) which has eaten deep into the fabric of the society must be reversed to avoid national crisis. Entrepreneurship education is just becoming a popular course in most of the Nigerian higher institutions as it was introduced in 2006 effective from 2007/2008 academic sessions and this has made the acquisition of relevant skills for employment and self-employability more theoretical than practical. This calls for critical survey of entrepreneurship education as the key to solving graduate unemployment (Oyebola, 2010). Entrepreneurship skill acquisition programme initiated by the National Youth Service Corps in its activities as also avail the newly admitted youth Corpers the opportunity to partake in diverse entrepreneurial skill acquisition programmes during their first three weeks at the camp. This study will empirically examine the effect of skill acquisition on entrepreneurship development among Nasarawa State University, Nigeria with a view to providing recommendations that will improve graduate entrepreneurship and hence reduce the level of graduate unemployment rate in Nigeria.

1.3   Research Objectives

The study has both general objective and specific objectives. The general objective or main objective of this study is to examine the effect of skill acquisition on entrepreneurship development among Nasarawa State University, Nigeria. The specific objectives are:

i)             To understand the impact of skill acquisition on entrepreneurship development on the students of Nasarawa State University

ii)           To identify the reasons for the introduction of skill acquisition programme in the higher institutions of learning in Nigeria

iii)         To examine the challenges facing skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development in the higher institutions of learning in Nigeria

1.4   Research Questions

The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:

i)             What are the impacts of skill acquisition on entrepreneurship development on the students of Nasarawa State University?

ii)           What are the reasons for the introduction of skill acquisition programme in the higher institutions of learning in Nigeria?

iii)         What are the challenges facing skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development in the higher institutions of learning in Nigeria?

1.5   Research Hypothesis

The research hypotheses to be tested include:

i)             there is no significant correlation between entrepreneurship education and self employability

ii)           there is a significant relationship between entrepreneurship education and unemployment reduction

1.6   Significance of the Study

        This study will be beneficial in highlighting the importance of entrepreneurship education and its impact on unemployment reduction in Nigeria. One of the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) goals highlights education (training) as a critical factor to reducing poverty and dependency. Allow the identification of the concept and framework of entrepreneurship. It will also be beneficial in the area of development and its contribution to Nigeria’s economy as well as generating greater awareness among tertiary institutions on the importance of having proper and practical strategies for acquiring entrepreneurial skills.

1.7   Scope of the Study

This study will be carried out among the students of Nasarawa State University, Nigeria. Information collected from these workers shall be subjected to further analysis and the results got from it shall be final.

1.8   Limitation of the study

The study will be faced with a lot of challenges and one it the problem of finance. There is not going to be enough funds to print questionnaires and to also transport the researcher to meet the desired respondents. Another one is time; the researcher is currently busy with the demand of his academics. A lot of assignments are available for the researcher to do and coupled with his desire to read and learn at the same time. These are the major challenges of this study.

1.9   Definitions of Terms      

The following terms were used in the course of this study:

Entrepreneurship education: seeks to provide students with the knowledge, skills and motivation to encourage entrepreneurial success in a variety of settings. Variations of entrepreneurshipeducation are offered at all levels of schooling from primary or secondary schools through graduate university programs.

Job creation: the process of providing new jobs, especially for people who are unemployed: the government’s job creation strategy.

Skills acquisition:  the ability to learn or acquire skills. It involves the development of a new skill, practice of a way of doing things usually gained through training or experience