THE PERCEPTION OF EMPLOYERS ON THE QUALITY OF NIGERIAN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS GRADUATES
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Education at the university level is critical to human resource development. Universities educate and create professional and highly competent professionals such as engineers, administrators/managers, accountants, surgeons and paramedics, lawyers, scientists, technicians, and lecturers in a variety of fields. According to Anho, (2011), universities' fundamental mission worldwide is to promote the life of the mind through intellectual inquiry and to generate, store, and transmit specialized knowledge and sophisticated expertise, as well as higher forms of culture and ethical foundations of conduct.
The World Bank (1999) demonstrates the value of university education to a nation's growth and well-being by stating that university education, in particular, is critical to the development of a knowledge economy and society in all nations.
According to the Nigerian Institute of Personnel Management NIPM (2000), the quality of graduates from both public and private universities in Nigeria is rapidly deteriorating, particularly in areas such as communication, technical abilities, human interaction, and social, conceptual, and analytical capacity. To this end, the Nigerian Companies Consultative Association NECA (2000) argued that employers are not recruiting but rather using employment protection methods as a result of the extremely low quality graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions who do not match industry requirements.
Given the importance of education, particularly at the tertiary level, to national development, nations, people, communities, and companies frequently spend much in education in an attempt to improve the system's quality (Akinyemi, Ofem & Ikuenomore, 2012).
As a result, higher education institutions face enormous pressure from employers of labor to create qualified graduates capable of economic engagement on an individual, national, and global scale (Teichler, 2007). These graduates should possess a mix of characteristics that enable them to approach their professions in an adaptable and proactive manner (Bezuidenhout, 2011).
As a result, the Nigerian government has taken various measures to ensure the quality of graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions by strengthening external control and monitoring, including the establishment of the National Universities Commission (NUC), which developed the Minimum Academic Standards (MAS) for all undergraduate programs. The MAS establishes the curriculum's content and minimum admission and graduation standards for each academic area.
Despite the Senate's internal control measures and the NUC's external functions through the use of MAS documents and other measures, inadequacies in staff facilities and managerial quality persist as the majority of Nigeria's tertiary institutions churn out graduates in a geometric progression while doing little or nothing to address their employability in the labor market.
Dabalen et al. (2000) and Ogundowole (2002) explored several reasons for low graduation quality in underdeveloped nations. One of them, they assert, is a deterioration in quality assurance, as seen by the high incidence of human capital flight.
This is a significant difficulty for Nigeria's higher institutions, which yearly generate over 300,000 graduates; a figure that should normally fulfill the country's human capital resource requirements (Oyesiku, 2010). However, firms prepared to pay a premium in order to recruit competent people are increasingly having difficulty filling job openings. According to Akanmu (2011), products of Nigerian tertiary institutions have been put to the test in a variety of forums to determine their fitness for the few available white collar employment. He said, "Not only is the situation sympathetic, but it is also embarrassing that the immense human material resources available to the country have not been trained and exploited to the country's advantage." Thus, the undertaking of this study cast a spotlight on the quality of graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions, with an emphasis on employers' perceptions.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Numerous organizations recognize the value of having highly competent staff capable of operating complex software or operating complex machines. In practice, employer demand for appropriately qualified graduates with the necessary organizational skills to manage workplace issues indicates that their availability is critical (Akanmu, 2011). Employers in Nigeria, on the other hand, have raised worry over a shortage of graduates with the necessary skills to face workplace issues. Numerous graduates seeking jobs in various industries in Nigeria have been rejected by companies who determined that they lacked the necessary skills to execute job-related activities (Aryeetey, 2011).
As a result, employers of labor in Nigeria frequently complain about graduates' lack of job readiness. They feel that academic standards have deteriorated significantly over the last decade and that a university education no longer ensures communicative or technical ability. As a result, graduates of universities are sometimes seen as "partially baked."
Our universities' instructional methods have deteriorated in rigor as a result of many institutions' inability to function properly. The causes cited for this problem include a lack of funds, inept and insufficient employees to deliver effective instruction.
The importance of quality education in Nigeria's public university system cannot be overstated; according to the National Manpower Board (2009), the Nigerian labor market can absorb only about 10% of the over 3.8 million people produced annually by the Nigerian educational system; this places a premium on quality assurance in order to ensure that graduates from public universities in Nigeria are competitive with their counterparts from private and international institutions.
In summary, the quality of graduates from Nigerian academic institutions and the country's unemployment patterns indicate that, without a determined effort to address the issues surrounding graduates' employability from postsecondary institutions, the situation might deteriorate (Akanmu, 2011). This is the context in which this study examined the quality of graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions, with a particular emphasis on employer perceptions.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Broadly, the objective of this study is to examine the perception of employers on the quality of Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates. Specifically, this study will focus on:
i. Determining the relationship between educational quality and graduate employability.
ii. Examining the causes of low quality graduates graduating from Nigerian tertiary institutions.
iii. Examining the effects of low quality Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates in the work force.
iv. Determining the measures that can improve the quality Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions will be answered in this study:
i. What is the relationship between educational quality and graduate employability?
ii. What are the causes of low quality graduates grauating from Nigerian tertiary institutions.
iii. What are the effects of low quality Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates in the work force?
iv. What are the measures that can improve the quality Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be beneficial to the society as the findings of this study will reveal the importance of quality education in the Nigerian society. This study will also reveal to the society the effects of low quality of nigerian tertiary institution graduates to the society.
Additionally, this study will be beneficial to school administrators and policy makers as the findings of this study will urge them to make effective changes in the educational field that will help reduce the churning out of low quality graduates by the Nigerian Universities.
Finally, this study will contribute to the existing body of knowledge. As such, the work will serve as a jumping-off point for future research on the subject.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Broadly, this study will be focused on examining the perception of employers on the quality of Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates. However, it will be specifically focused on determining the relationship between educational quality and graduate employability, examining the causes of low quality graduates graduating from Nigerian tertiary institutions, examining the effects of low quality Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates in the work force and determining the measures that can improve the quality Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates.
Graduates of three selected tertiary institutions in Edo State will be the participants in the survey of this study.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The general focus of this study will be limited to examining the perception of employers on the quality of Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates. However, it will be specifically be limited to determining the relationship between educational quality and graduate employability, examining the causes of low quality graduates graduating from Nigerian tertiary institutions, examining the effects of low quality Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates in the work force and determining the measures that can improve the quality Nigerian tertiary institutions graduates.
Graduates of three selected tertiary institutions in Edo State will be the participants in the survey of this study, thus the sample size was limited because only a few respondents were chosen to answer the research instrument, therefore the results cannot be generalized to other secondary schools outside the state.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Perception: The way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted
Employers: A person or organization that employs people.
Quality: The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.
Tertiary institutions: Tertiary institution means a university or other post- secondary institution or higher educational institution.