Unemployment has been a major issue in the Nigerian economy since the mid-1980s. Consequently, the Federal government adopted several strategies and policies towards entrepreneurial development in Nigeria to combat the unemployment problem. All over the world, entrepreneurship has been adjudged to have the capacity to generate employment. Indeed, extant literature discloses that entrepreneurship has been linked with the creation of self-employment. This notwithstanding, literature reveal that only limited studies have been conducted on entrepreneurship in developing economies, especially Nigeria, hence the need for further research. Hence, this study investigated entrepreneurial development and employment creation in Oyo State, Nigeria. The study sought specifically to assess the capacity of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) to generate employment in Oyo State.
The study adopted a survey research design. The population of the study was all the 4,000 registered SMEs in Oyo State, provided by the National Association of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. Stratified random sampling technique was utilised to select sixteen out of thirty-three local government areas in Oyo State as well as the sample size of 400 SMEs. The choice of the study area was based on size and concentration of SMEs. The research instrument was a self-developed and validated questionnaire. The reliability test of the major variables in the questionnaire yielded the following Cronbach’s alpha coefficients: Self Employment=0.86, Business Partnership=0.68, Business Inheritance=0.74, Government Employment Training Programme=0.67 and Entrepreneurship Development=0.93. A total of 455 copies of the questionnaire were administered with a response rate of 87.9%. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential (multiple regression) statistics.
Findings revealed that there was a significant relationship between self-employment and acquisition of vocational skills (R2 =0.763; p=0.000). There was also a significant relationship between business partnership formation and acquisition of managerial skills (R2=0.754; p=0.001).Similarly, there was a significant relationship between family business formation and acquisition of technical skills through inheriting enterprises (R2=0.713; p=0.002). Moreover, there was a significant relationship between government employment training programme and self-employment (R2=0.693; p=0.000). In addition, among the SMEs in Oyo State, bakery (125) business center (76), petty trading (63) and barbing (61) generated more employment opportunities than others.
The study concluded that vocational skills and government training created employment opportunities through the SMEs in Oyo State, Nigeria. Also, formation of business organizations enhanced the acquisition of managerial and technical skills. The study recommended that government and SMEs should focus on the establishment of enterprises that generate employment most. In addition, government should provide adequate training for entrepreneurs while entrepreneurs in turn should provide adequate and continuous training for employees to enhance their technical skills.
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