CONTRIBUTION OF THE NATIONAL DIRECTORATE OF EMPLOYMENT (NDE) TO UNEMPLOYMENT REDUCTION IN EKITI STATE, NIGERIA (2011-2015)
The issue of unemployment is at the front burner of policy discussions in both developed and developing countries today. This is because, when left unchecked, the scourge of unemployment has the capacity to destabilize the most peaceful of societies and crash the most buoyant of economies. The study assessed the contribution of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to unemployment reduction in Ekiti State between 2011 and 2015. The NDE was created in 1986 to combat mass unemployment in Nigeria and has been operating a state office in Ekiti State since 1998. In pursuant of its mandate, the NDE designed schemes such as the National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (NOAS), the Enterprise Start-up Development Training Scheme (ESDTS) and the Micro Business Skills Training Scheme (MBSTS), among others, which are aimed at imparting job-specific skills to beneficiaries. However, despite the continued implementation of these schemes in Ekiti State, the rank of the unemployed in the state keeps swelling by the day. In the course of the study, three hypotheses were formulated: HO1:the National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (NOAS) has not significantly contributed to unemployment reduction in Ekiti State; HO2: the Enterprise Start-up and Development Training (ESDT) Scheme has not significantly contributed to unemployment reduction in Ekiti State; HO3: the Micro Business Skills Training (MBST) Scheme has not significantly contributed to unemployment reduction in Ekiti State. Data were sourced from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data were obtained through administered questionnaires and interviews; analysed using tables, frequency counts, simple percentages and content analysis. The hypotheses were tested using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and Spearman‟s Correlation at 0.05 level of significance. The secondary data were obtained from NDE Annual Reports. The results of the tested hypotheses study showed that while the NOAS has significantly contributed to unemployment reduction in Ekiti State, the same cannot be said of the ESDTS and the MBSTS. Interview responses however contradict the result of the tested hypothesis that the NOAS has significantly contributed to unemployment reduction in Ado and Ikole Local Government Areas of Ekiti State as all of the respondents disagreed with the notion. The findings of the study also revealed that NDE activities in the state are mainly concentrated in the state capital and, as such, little impact of the NDE is felt in the rural areas – a situation that largely limits the NDE‟s capacity to reduce mass unemployment in the state through its skill acquisition schemes. The study concluded that the sole concentration of NDE activities in Ado-Ekiti Local Government Area limits the Directorate‟s capacity to significantly reduce mass unemployment in Ikole Local Government Area through its skill acquisition schemes. To this end, the study recommended that the NDE should extend its physical presence to Ikole Local Government Area and other rural areas of Ekiti State.