The National Bureau of Statistics just released its most recent labour survey with a state-by-state breakdown on the rate of unemployment. The director in charge of the real sector and household statistics, Dr. Isiaka Olarenwaju, with explains why the survey doesn’t include a sectorial data on unemployment:
From the data released, can you point out the most promising sectors for job creation?
We have released the data. It is not the NBS that solely identifies the sectors. Statistics itself is not a plan. It is only a tool for planning.
Sometimes, we release statistics on areas we are not experts on. The experts in the area will however be able to interpret the data.
For instance, if we release data on economic activity, those who are gurus in economics will know the interpretation.
If, for example, the GDP grew at a negative rate, if it continues for two consecutive quarters, by definition it means the economy is in recession.
It is not a definition in statistics but a definition in economics. So when we give unemployment or employment data based on sector; the data is there.
So it is left for the analysts from different fields to say the data shows A, B, C, and D. It is not good for NBS that released the data to begin to say this is it.
We can only make comment if the data is not understood. We have released the data. We have shown the employment by quarter and by state.
There are gaps in the data. NBS didn’t make any distinction between skilled and unskilled labour. Is there a reason for that?
Who is a skilled labourer? Who is not? Number one, anybody that is working in the area where he is not trained is not skilled in that area.
So, the problem with Nigeria first of all is lack of jobs. If you study most okada riders now, most of them now are educated.
In those days, that profession was left for those who did not go to school or with limited education who could not be offered skillful jobs.
They therefore quickly go for what they can learn within a few days and get their license to operate. But nowadays, you see people with HND, even university graduates because there is no job for them to do.
If you just concentrate on that, you might likely see that over 90 per cent of people working in any sector are not skillful to do that job.
What about somebody that has studied medicine in the university and is just a clerk to someone in a pharmacy. By definition, he is an unskilled person to that profession.
Generally, he is educated. Even the okada rider that is HND holder, educationally, he is skillful but not trained professionally to go and ride okada.
So the scope of our survey did not cover that. It is not everything that you can cover. And mind you, if you want to cover this area of interest you mentioned, it is not that we cannot cover it.
But there is also limited resources for us to ask every question. If you have limited funds, you have to focus on the most important indicators to study what the topic is all about.
So we have decided to focus on jobs first, not necessarily whether the person is skilled or not. If you want to do that, you can.
But that is not the most important problem now. If there are jobs available, one person can secure three jobs and then select the one that his skill is most needed.
But there is also limited resources for us to ask every question. If you have limited funds, you have to focus on the most important indicators to study what the topic is all about
Lagos was listed as one of the states that had a reduction in the rate of unemployment between the third quarter of 2017 and that of 2018. Is bureau likely to release data on which sectors these reductions have taken place?
That is a question I have said is the Statistician General that can answer it. But already we have released a data set which shows state A or B is either on the increase or decrease.
For the sector, it is possible to do that. But it is the amalgamation of all employment across the state that we can use to do that.
It is no longer going be to state by state but by sector. It is not that it is not possible, but I cannot say when or how that will be done.
Like Jesus said, even the angels of God do not know the last day. So the Statistician General is in the best position to answer that question accurately.
What are the chances that the Bureau of Statistics would provide data on the topic of the day, which is, the shortage or surplus of doctors in the health sector?
The probability is equal to one. That is we are able and we are capable. With the resources available, NBS is ready to do that, accurately for that matter.
But I cannot say the data will be available anytime soon. Why I cannot say that is because the availability of data depends on a number of things.
And one of the factors is the resources to produce. Mind you, the budget is soon to be passed. Even when it is signed, it will only be released according to the plan which must have been done months ago.
Anything outside that budget plan cannot only come under the appropriation of the next financial year. So if it is already there that NBS funds include data to show analysis of health sector, then it can be made available.