Is a postgraduate degree in Nigeria worth it?

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Nigerians are facing a difficult dilemma, with diminishing purchasing power on one hand and increasing unemployment on the other. Many are considering the merits of a postgraduate degree and its relevance to the Nigerian economy. Is a postgraduate degree worth it?

According to the NBS Q4 2020 report, unemployment in Nigeria is at an alarming 33.3% showing a great deal of scarcity of jobs in the society. Although many believe getting a postgraduate degree has a huge advantage in getting a good job, the figures tell a slightly different story considering the extra time and cost it takes to attain such a degree.

A deeper dive into the report shows that 27.8% of Masters degree holders are unemployed and 16.9% of Doctorate degree holders are jobless. Given that it takes at least two years to complete a Masters programme and a minimum of three years for a Doctorate degree in Nigeria, the question of a post-graduate degree’s merits meets a formidable premise in Nigeria.

Nairametrics sought to understand the real-life implication of a postgraduate degree and to get the perspective of experts in the field.

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What are employers saying?

A top human resources executive with a well-known consumer goods company in Nigeria, who preferred to speak on the condition of anonymity opined that the pursuit of a post-graduate degree is vital especially in an area where specialization is relevant to the organisation.

“A postgraduate degree is important if the course of study is relevant to the employee’s role,” he said.

He however stated that the ability to actually perform on the job is dependent on the individual’s tenacity and attitude to the task at hand rather than further qualifications.

“One can have a postgraduate degree and still struggle to function properly. I believe capability and productivity on the job are mostly not tied to academic achievements. I also feel personal development and training supersedes postgraduate degrees,” he stated.

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He also agreed with the notion that self-taught individuals turn out to be better hires than postgraduate degree holders.

“A self-taught individual with the right determination, zeal to learn, exposure and past experiences counts over postgraduate degrees,” he opined.

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Adaeze Atuanya, Senior Recruitment Consultant at FCMG Search postulated that a postgraduate degree is relevant but doesn’t serve as a core requirement for all job recruitments.

“Postgraduate degree can be a core requirement for some positions and clients, but it’s not an important requirement unless requested by hiring managers for specific positions.”

Atuanya, however, disagrees with the notion that self-taught individuals are better hires, opining that a postgraduate degree gives a better signal to the recruiters of competency.

“As much as experience is the key factor when hiring for a role, a postgraduate degree holder definitely stands a better chance of being hired because he/she has evidence to prove he/she has undergone certain educational training.”

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What the employees with postgraduate degrees are saying

Ezebor Ogheneovie, Manager at Omez Nigeria Ltd opined that there are some merits, but if given the opportunity he would take a refund of what he paid to obtain a postgraduate education.

“A postgraduate degree is worth the stress in some ways, but if I could get my money back I will because it will pay me better if I had used the money to start up a business,” he said.

As regards remuneration, Ezebor said “My salary does not reflect my academic upgrade in any way. To survive in this economy I have to engage in other activities to bring in funds.”

Titobioluwa Okunade, Research Analyst at Atlass Portfolios opined that the popularity of postgraduate degrees is increasing in Nigeria and the payoff is huge.

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“A postgraduate degree in Nigeria is now the new B.Sc, as most graduates now go through the programme to pass time while in search of befitting jobs,” Okunade said. “I believe it is definitely not a waste and would still pay off huge dividends.”

Okunade also stated that his pay is not reflective of his postgraduate degree as many companies now prefer professional certifications to postgraduates degrees.

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“In this country, employers place more value on professional certifications than academic qualifications, so it doesn’t reflect in salaries, which is not supposed to be.

Employers in Nigeria need to be taught the value of a post-graduate degree and how it should be valued, but in a country where zero priority is placed on the education of the populace these things are bound to happen.”

What this means

The figures show unemployment is present and persistent in the Nigerian economy, regardless of the academic qualifications of the nation’s working class. Although, the rate of joblessness reduces as you achieve higher qualifications, the portion of unemployed postgraduates is still too high.

Also, employers are more in favour of degrees with practical experience, professional certifications and the tenacity to succeed at a job. Although a postgraduate degree presents an individual with a unique edge, it may still be obscured by the high level of competition in the Nigerian labour market.

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