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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.

Keywords:      Vocational skills, Business partnership formation, Technical skills, Business inheritance, Managerial skills

Word Count: 429



1.1 Background to the Study

The need for employment creation in Nigeria did not arise until the mid-1980s, when the economy of Nigeria collapsed and youth and graduate unemployment became a major issue of the economy of the country, particularly the latter (Arogundade, 2011). Prior to this period, the focus was in occupying positions created by the colonial masters for the smooth running of their colonial administration as well as filling the positions that the colonial masters were vacating which was occasioned by the political independence gained by the country. In this way, both graduates and non-graduates were occupying vacancies so created (Aladekomo 2004; Alarape, 2008).

            However, by the mid – 1980s unemployment had reared its devastating effect on the Nigerian economy. This was occasioned by various factors such as economic recession, production of jobless educational institutions’ graduates, low labour absorbing capacity by companies, mass lay off of civil servants, embargo on employment in the civil service, unemployability of our educational institutions’ graduates for lack of relevant skills, irrelevance of curricula offered in educational institutions, closure and relocation of some business enterprises and infrastructural deficits (Idowu, 1987; Aladekomo, 2004; Adebisi & Oni, 2008; Olufemi & Adebola, 2008; Oviawe, 2010; Idogho & Aniabor, 2011; Joseph, 2011; Shadare & Tunde, 2012).

            The general household survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2011 put the unemployment rate in Nigeria as 23.9 percent. This is a very worrisome development to all stakeholders: the society, the unemployed and the government. Particularly worrisome is the rising rate of graduate unemployment among the unemployed labour force in the country over the years (Akintoye, 2008). For instance, the graduate unemployment rate rose from about 1 percent in 1974 to 4 percent in 1984; and between 1992 and 1997, it rose to 32 percent (Akintoye, 2008). In 2008, Yoloye reported that graduate unemployment rate had risen to 71.4 percent (Egunsola, Dazala & Daniel, 2012).

            Equally worrisome is also the alarming rate of unemployment among non-graduates. Oye, Ibrahim and Ahmad (2011) putthe largest proportions (31-50%) of the unemployed in the country as being secondary school graduates with 40% of them representing urban youth ranging between 20 and 24 years. Another 31% of them fall within the age rangeof15 – 19 years.

The resultant effect of this high rate of unemployment in Nigeria is youth restiveness of all kinds such as blowing off of crude oil pipes, kidnapping (Onwubiko, 2011) as well as these youth organizing themselves into militant groups in the form of Egbesu Boys, Oodua People’s Congress, Bakassi Boys, Almajiris, “area boys” and Boko Haram to target the very society that alienated them (Awogbenle & Iwuamadi, 2010; Liolio, 2013).

In view of the above, the Federal government adopted several strategies and policies towards entrepreneurial development in Nigeria by establishing institutions and agencies, which provide variety of support services to entrepreneurs. The implication of these policies is the emergence of entrepreneurial development programmes (EDP) in different parts of Nigeria with the aim of combating unemployment problem in the country (Aladekomo, 2004; Alarape, 2008; Arogundade, 2011; Ekpoh & Edet, 2011).

Entrepreneurial development in itself is conceived as a programme of activities to enhance the knowledge, skills, behaviour and attitudes of individuals and groups to assume the role of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial development programmes, therefore, are targeted at owner managers of small business firms as well as those identified to possess potentials for self – employment (Owualah, 1999). The aim is to allow individuals and groups to acquire these skills, knowledge and attitudes to enable them take the role of entrepreneurs thereby creating jobs for themselves, since creation of employment also requires the establishment of new ventures (Aladekomo, 2004; Alarape, 2008; Ekpoh & Edet, 2011).

Some of the entrepreneurial development programmes aimed at combating unemployment problem in the country are run by various government agencies which include national economic empowerment and development strategy (NEEDS), small and medium scale development agency (SMEDAN), student industrial work experience scheme (SIWES), national directorate of employment (NDE) which provides vocational training for participants to acquire vocational skills in different trades, among other things;, youth enterprises with innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) and subsidy reinvestment and empowerment programme (SURE-P).

In order to inculcate entrepreneurial behaviour in the minds of students while in school and by extension, reduce the rate of unemployment further in the economy, the federal government of Nigeria through National UniversityCommission (NUC) directed the introduction of entrepreneurship education in tertiary education institutions during the 2007/2008 academic session(Nzelibe, Yusuf, Ozigbo, Mohammed& Ayuba, 2010).

Entrepreneurship is adjudged as being capable of generating employment, among other things, as it is considered to be labour intensive and therefore capable of providing employment for our teeming youths and graduates (Aladekomo, 2004; Ahmad, Baharun &Rahman, 2004; Onugu, 2009; Deakins and Feel, 2009; Oviawe 2010; Idogho & Ainabor, 2011; Arogundale, 2011; Akhunemomkhan, Raimi & Sofoluwe 2013; Aziz, Friedman& Boprieva, 2013; Ohachosin, Onwuchewa & Ifeanyi, 2013). However, in spite of the various numbers of these programmes established in different parts of the country, the rate of unemployment keeps on increasing unabated.

The importance of entrepreneurship cannot be overemphasized.  Deakins and Feel (2009) making reference to the statement credited to Jean – Philippe Cotis, the Chief Economist of Organization for Economic Conglomeration and Development (OECD), confirms the importance of entrepreneurship among policy makers and academic researchers by saying that it has scientifically been proved that entrepreneurship activities create employment, productivity and ultimately economic growth.  

Furthermore, OECD entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) outlooks asserts that SMEs and entrepreneurship are more recognized worldwide to be the very source of dynamism, innovative and flexibility in advanced industrialized countries as well as emerging and developing economies. Accordingly, they are seen as being responsible for most of job creation in OECD countries and make important contributions to innovation, productivity and economic growth. Indeed, Akinlua and Akintunde (2008) furtherbuttress this statement by asserting that these small scale businesses employ more workers than their large scale counterparts.

Before this time, however, and inspite of the importance of entrepreneurship, its development has been neglected for a long time in Nigeria (Aladekomo, 2004). Aladekomo(2004) pointed out that the industrial policy which came on board only after the Nigerian independence in 1960 initially concentrated on the establishment of big industries with utter neglect for small scale businesses and by so doing, entrepreneurship which is the bedrock of small scale businesses was unwittingly de – emphasized.

Corroborating this view, Olaniyan (2005) says that Nigerian government in the past formulated policies focused on the large scale enterprises that are deemed to be the hall mark of development in the private sector and this encouraged the establishment of public enterprises to the detriment of private enterprises. He goes further to say that small – scale businesses most of which operate in the informal sector, were viewed by government as only incidental to development. Yet, as observed by Akinlua and Akintunde (2008), it is these small scale businesses that employ more workers than their large scale counterparts.

However, this rise in the unemployment of graduates and non – graduates, inspite of the various entrepreneurial development programmes established that were aimed at combating the menace of unemployment, has raised some contentious issues. Prior to the mid – 1980s when unemployment reared its devastating effect on the economy, this group of people used to enjoy paid employment right from the colonial era.  For instance, Aladekomo (2004) says the colonial masters were using the available educational institutionsas factories for producing various categories of staff such as clerks, interpreters, forest guards and sanitary inspectors. All these were paid for their services they rendered to the colonial administration.

George, Owoyemi and Onakale (2012) reveal that it was Mungo Park that first introduced wage payment into Nigeria in 1795 when he had to pay for the services of his two guides. Furthermore, George, et al., (2012) says that this form of employment became attractive to the people to the extent that evensome school students then, were unwilling to complete their primary or secondary school education as the temptation of wage employment was too much for them to resist while still in school. In this way, the society known as Nigeria came to accept this type of employment- paid employment (George, et al., 2012). However, the type of employment that entrepreneurial development programmes lead to is self-employment (Adekomo, 2004; Ekpoh & Edet 2011) and not wage/paid employment.

Government employment training programmes are generally meant as interventionist programmes to alleviate unemployment situation in an economy. These programmes usually translate to small business ventures. Previous studies have shown that these entrepreneurship/SMEs, though provide employment, usually have a short life span. Though, (Fatunla, 1989; Edet, 1991; Owualah, 1999; Emeh, Nwanguma & Aborah, 2012) have confirmed that some of the entrepreneurship programmes initiated by Federal government have recorded appreciable success.

There has been emphasis on entrepreneurship leading to self–employment. Frimpong(2014) reveals that there is lack of empirical studies testing the relationship between participation in entrepreneurship education and partnership business ventures. Frimpong (2014) further reports that there are a lot of advantages of entrepreneurship leading to business partnership. He says sole proprietors need to generate enough funding to remain operational and to capitalize upon market developments and obtaining such capital can be a very difficulttask because lenders are often reluctant to finance this type of one man business. Rather these lenders prefer business organizations corporately owned as a security for their funds. 

1.2 Statement of the Problem

            In the past, high unemployment rate was alien to graduates in Nigeria. Where this high rate of unemployment was prevalent then was among people without basic education (Akintoye, 2008). The study put persons with and without primary school education as people who were largely affected by unemployment in the 1970s. The study put people with this educational status at between 76.8 and 80.6 percent of the unemployment in 1974 and 1978 respectively among the unemployed labour force; showing that non-graduates do experience unemployment problem.At this same period, graduate unemployment accounted for less than 1 percent of the employed labour force in 1974 but rose to 4 percent in 1984 (Akintoye, 2008). This trend, however, has since changed. Graduate unemployment rate has been rising astronomically from that time onwards. For instance, between 1992 and 1997, it rose to 32 percent; that is about 700 percent above and over the figure of 1984(Akintoye, 2008). By 2008, Yoloye reported that the graduate unemployment rate had risen to 71.4 percent (Yoloye cited in Egunsola, Dazala & Daniel, 2012). The implication of this is that for every 10 graduates in Nigeria, 7 of them are unemployed among the unemployed labour force.

In order to get jobs, therefore,relevant skills must be acquired to carry out such jobs. However, Akutson and Udeh (2015) drew attention of how relevant skills acquired lead to the creation of millions of small businesses which create employment. From the foregoing, it is discovered that the unemployment rate is high among both non – graduates and graduates. It is in view of this rising rate of unemployment that this study seeks to find out if vocational skills actually lead to self-employment.

            Public-finance theory allows government to spend public funds to address a peculiar situation (Wolk, 2007). Consequently, in the face of this enormous unemployment problem, the government of Nigeria decided to put in place entrepreneurship programmes, as employment training programmes, financed by it, aimed at combating unemployment in the country (Owualah, 1999; Adebisi & Oni, 2008; Akintoye, 2008;Awogbenle & Iwuamadi, 2010; Oghojafor, Aduloju, Olowokudejo, 2011; Emeh, Nwanguma & Abaroh, 2012).

There is one major handicap that a self-employedface as he relates with financial institutions. This financial problem is their inability to access credit from financial institutions because the latter believe that giving loan to such a business setup can lead to a high financial risk that can lead to poor performance loan. However, when a group of such individuals come together to form a partnership, the financial institutions seem to have confidence in lending to such a business setup. Besides, another area of problem for a self-employed business entity is lack of synergy. When two or more people come together to form a business partnership, they pool their resources together for the progress of the business.

Furthermore, a self-employed business seems to have a short life span. Most die with their founders. However, with business partnership, the death of a partner does not necessarily lead to the collapse of the business entity. Therefore when individuals come together to start a business partnership, the business will have access to credit from financial institutions to run the business, get the talents of partners- managerial, marketing and sales acumen of partners-for the effective running of the business. When synergy is obtained from partners, and capital is available for the business and with the guarantee of long life span, such business will employ production resources, including labour.

However, inspite of these advantages of business partnership, it still fails for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons could include unresolved conflict, where values, career or life goal are misaligned, lack of effective decision making process, lack of team work as well as lack of well-defined financial structure. There are a number of businesses that have been inherited from older generations through which employment is being generated. Hoy (2007) reveals that when intrapreneurs work under the tutelage of entrepreneurs, they acquire necessary skills to run such businesses. This guarantees the continuity of such businesses. When this happens, such businesses have the ability to retain their employees as well as the ability to employ more people.

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