1.1 Background to the Study
In Nigeria today, the rate of graduate unemployment has been constantly on the increase despite the enormous endowment of the country with human and natural resources. However, graduate unemployment is not peculiar to Nigeria or developing nations; it is indeed a long standing global phenomenon hence it has been a common trend in many countries to find graduates of universities not able to secure jobs several years after graduation (Twumasi, 2013). In tackling the global crisis of graduate unemployment, policy makers and stakeholders in developed countries such as England, USA, and Germany, advocated a refocus of educational systems towards acquisition of vocational and technical skills to enhance smooth transition into jobs for school leavers particularly graduates of universities. This owes to the fact that education is important to the development of any society particularly because the goals of wealth creation, poverty reduction and value re-orientation can only be attained and sustained through an efficient educational system which impacts relevant skills, knowledge, capacities, attitudes and values into individuals (Agi & Yellowe, 2013).
Entrepreneurship skills and education acquired in the University has been acknowledged as a primary mechanism for the creation of a knowledge economy and the development of human capital all over the world, thus considering the pivotal role of university education to human development. Another revision was carried out on the National Policy on Education in 2004 to accommodate global trends in education as a result of technological development (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004). Consequently, the policy proposed that admission into Nigerian universities should be based on a 60-40 per cent ratio for science and humanities programmes respectively. This informed the establishment of Institutes of Technology in an attempt to usher in Nigeria into technological and industrial development. However, the policy failed in the achievement of its goals probably because universities were unable to meet the stipulated admission for programmes ratio owing to the fact that programmes in social sciences continue to attract more candidates based on societal demands (Imam, 2012).
The emergence of entrepreneurs is considered favourably as key policy strategy in many developed nations, and entrepreneurship is given the center stage particularly on issues of graduate unemployment and economic development. This owes to the fact that it contributes to nation‘s wealth by creating employment opportunities, opening new markets, driving industrialisation, as well as increase in productivity leading to equitable distribution of income and higher standard of living for the populace (Jahanshahi, Nawaser, Khaksar, & Kamalian, 2011). In light of the above, several entrepreneurship development programmes such as National Directorate of Employment (NDE), National Poverty Eradication Program (NAPEP) and more recently Youth With Innovation (YOUWIN) and many others have been embarked upon in Nigeria over the years. Many of these initiatives failed due to poor implementation and the inability to appreciably reduce the rising rate of unemployment particularly youth and graduate unemployment. Specifically, National Directorate of Employment (NDE) was created in 1986 saddled with the responsibility of designing and implementing programmes to tackle mass unemployment in Nigeria through vocational skill training, employment counseling, job linkages, as well as entrepreneurial training and enterprise creation. Nevertheless, the major demerit of the NDE was the inability of the programme to provide post training resources for job creation as a consequence of lack of commitment by government at various levels leading to low survival rates of businesses established (Mno, 2007).
The introduction of distinguished entrepreneurs like Bill Gates in the U.S and Alico Dangote in Africa has driven stakeholders, policy makers and researchers globally to search for ways to model the younger generation after these rare breeds of entrepreneurs in order to effectively tackle graduate unemployment and achieve economic development. The outcome is a focus on entrepreneurship education which is targeted at stimulating creative thinking and enhancing individuals to identify opportunities that can lead to business start-ups (Honig, 2004). The introduction of entrepreneurship education by the Government of Nigeria through the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 2006 was one of the intervention strategies and policies in line with global trends to refocus university education towards entrepreneurship development as well as to combat the persistent rise in graduate unemployment. At present, entrepreneurship education in Nigerian universities are offered as a compulsory general course while some universities offer Bachelor degree in entrepreneurship. However, for any entrepreneurship education programme to achieve its goals, the structure and the key components of such programme must favourably motivate students‘ learning orientation and considerations of entrepreneurship as a future career. The consideration of learning orientation in the context of entrepreneurship education in Nigerian universities has practical implications considering that an individual‘s learning orientation is not completely static particularly because it can be influenced based on certain situational contexts (Dragoni, Tesluk, Russell, & Oh 2009). Specifically the design and process of an entrepreneurship programme offered in Nigerian universities can facilitate undergraduates to be more learning oriented particularly if the design and process of such programmes are active experimentation oriented as well as encourage students to question their current knowledge (Dragoni, 2005). Though an individual‘s learning orientation exhibits the attributes of a personal trait, it is still considered as one that can be influenced. Hence, a challenging entrepreneurship programme can enhance students learning orientation.
Entrepreneurship education in universities has attracted the attention of researchers all over the world and one main research focus is students‘ intentions for an entrepreneurial career. This is consequent upon the fact that intentions provide ample evidence of the outcome of an entrepreneurship training programme and because intentions are good predictors of future behaviour (Dirk, Benson, & Bruce, 2013). This implies that intentions could provide a reliable lead to future entrepreneurial behaviour and expression of actions. However, entrepreneurial implementation intentions as theorised in this study suggest that intentions can be expressed through certain observable actions and behavioural responses to show commitment towards the achievement of entrepreneurial goals and aspirations. Nevertheless, perceptions play a critical role in entrepreneurship education. If a student or an educator has a positive perception towards entrepreneurship education, it is likely that such an individual will actively engage in the activities involved in the programme. Individuals with positive perception of an entrepreneurship programme will perceive themselves as having what it takes to achieve the goals of the programme as it relates to the teaching and learning outcomes (Moy, Luk, & Wright, 2003). Therefore the perception of a student or an educator about various aspects of an entrepreneurship programme will largely determine the goals the individual sets for him/herself and the expected outcome of actions taken. Therefore based on the perceptions of students and entrepreneurship educators in selected universities, this research work will study the relationship between entrepreneurship education gap and unemployment among university graduates in Delta State, Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Despite the introduction of entrepreneurship education as a compulsory course in Nigerian universities, the aspirations for white collar jobs and graduate unemployment has persistently been on the increase. However, studies such as Aja-Okorie and Adali (2013) as well as Adebayo and Kolawole (2013) have established that entrepreneurship education has a positive effect on entrepreneurial intentions of university students in Nigeria. Therefore the development of entrepreneurial intentions by Nigerian university students may not be in doubt.
It simply implies that university students in Nigeria are not able to translate their intentions into the achievement of entrepreneurial goals and aspirations at graduation. It is important to state that the success of any knowledge or skill development initiative is largely determined by the participant‘s learning orientation. Hence, considering that students in Nigerian universities are hardly able to translate entrepreneurial intentions into the achievement of entrepreneurial goals and pursuit, it implies that the exposure to entrepreneurship education may not favourably motivate students‘ learning orientation. Furthermore, the expression of actions in pursuit of a goal substantiates intentions and increases the likelihood for the achievement of a desired end (Gollwitzer, 1993). This implies that the rising rates of graduate unemployment in Nigeria may be a pointer to the fact that entrepreneurship programmes in Nigerian universities do not motivate students to initiate actions and behavioural responses in service of their entrepreneurial goals and aspirations at graduation. Therefore in proffering solutions to these challenges identified, there is a need to highlight what areas have been covered by existing literature as regards the interplay between the components of an entrepreneurship programme, the dimensions of students‘ learning orientation, and expression of actions in pursuit of entrepreneurial goals (entrepreneurial implementation intentions), in order to identify the lacuna that exist.
An educator‘s competence is a decisive factor regarding the development of entrepreneurial skills (Hytti & O’Gorman, 2004). This recommends the capability of an educator cannot be overemphasized especially in light of the fact that down to earth business aptitudes and experience are required to instill entrepreneurial skills and abilities in students. Business planning as an enterprising action that includes the totality of the enterprise procedure, consequently it is as yet considered as a significant part of entrepreneurship education and training. Therefore, the investigation of Fiet (2000) took a gander at the job of the educator in entrepreneurship education for the most part; correspondingly Shulman and Shulman (2004) focused on the job of reasonable business experience and training of entrepreneurship educators in inspiring contemplations of entrepreneurship as a vocation by college students. In any case, considering the job of business planning exercises in inculcating entrepreneurship skills in students, another ramification for this exploration is to analyze the role of a educator’s capability on students’ commitment to learning and marketable strategy planning.
University support systems can be a major determinant of student‘s consideration of entrepreneurship as a career. University initiatives and support systems may largely affect the expression of innovativeness (Morris, Kuratko, & Cornwall, 2013). These initiatives motivate knowledge sharing among students culminating in innovations (Morris, Kuratko, & Cornwall, 2013). The investigation of Reznik (2010) looked at the university environment and student entrepreneurial intentions. Different investigations, for example, Linan, Urbano, and Guerrero (2011) and the investigation of Shirokova, Bogatyreva, and Galkina (2014) have investigated university environment and formation of student‘s entrepreneurial intentions. Nevertheless, a critical task to explore in the Nigerian context is to examine the role of university support systems in motivating knowledge sharing and innovations among students.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this research work is to study the relationship between entrepreneurship education gap and unemployment among university graduates in Delta State, Nigeria. More specifically, the study attempted:
- To ascertain the effects of entrepreneurship curriculum contents on students‘ critical thinking and business idea generation.
- To understand the challenges and prospects of youths entrepreneurship amongst university graduates in Delta State
- To evaluate the role of teaching methods in entrepreneurship on students‘ interest and business start-ups.
- To examine relationship between entrepreneurship education and unemployment among university graduates in Nigeria
1.4 Research Questions
Based on the research objectives, the following research questions were addressed in the study:
- What are the effects of entrepreneurship curriculum contents on students‘ critical thinking and business idea generation?
- What are the challenges and prospects of youths entrepreneurship amongst university graduates in Delta State?
- What is the role of teaching methods in entrepreneurship on students‘ interest and business start-ups?
- What is the relationship between entrepreneurship education and unemployment among university graduates in Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following Hypotheses stated in null form were tested in this study;
- There is a significant correlation between entrepreneurship curriculum contents and students‘ critical thinking and business idea generation
- There is no significant relationship between teaching methods in entrepreneurship and students‘ interest and business start-ups
- There is no significant relationship between entrepreneurship education and unemployment among university graduates in Nigeria
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is significant to policy makers and stakeholders in Nigeria regarding the design of an entrepreneurship curriculum that can enhance the development of viable business ideas by students of Nigerian Universities. The result of this study will provide a guide for university managements on the formulation and implementation of policies, consistent with engagement in innovative activities and entrepreneurial development of undergraduates in Nigerian universities. The findings of this study will facilitate the development of entrepreneurial skills and aptitudes in Nigerian university students, which in turn will motivate the propensity for job creation and reduction in graduate unemployment. Also, this research will contribute to existing knowledge in entrepreneurship education literature, by developing an intention model that will be useful for researchers in undertaking further research on related areas of study.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study provides a basis to understand how students interpret the teaching and learning processes in entrepreneurship education and how these affects their behavioural responses and actions in terms of their employability in the labour force. Consequently, this study involved students of Delta State University, Abraka.
Definition of Terms
Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is defined as the process that involves idea generation, opportunity identification and business planning, which results in business creation or product innovation.
Entrepreneur: An entrepreneur is defined as an individual, who can successfully and efficiently organise resources in search of an opportunity to create value.
Entrepreneurship Education: Entrepreneurship education is defined as any program or process of education targeted at motivating entrepreneurial actions and behaviour.
Entrepreneurship Curriculum Content: Entrepreneurship curriculum content is defined as information and experiences contained in the curriculum of an entrepreneurship program.