Meet the best and worst countries to start a career

...Nigeria ranks among worst countries

The United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, United States and Japan have been ranked the best five countries to start a career globally by US-based CEOWORLD magazine.

Nigeria was joined by Uruguay, Libya, Syria and Yemen on the list of the worst countries to start a career.

The unattractiveness of starting a career in Nigeria helps explain the upsurge in Nigerians exiting the country to go to some of the countries with better prospects for starting a career like the UK and Canada.

Africa’s largest economy occupied the 124th spot globally, falling behind peers such as South Africa which ranked highest in Africa at 59th, followed by Egypt at 65th and Mauritius at the 66th spot.

The United Kingdom was the best country to begin a career globally, with Germany, Canada and the United States in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th spot, respectively.

The study is based on a questionnaire-based detailed global survey by the CEOWORLD magazine in partnership with the Global Business Policy Institute (GBPI) with a sample of 186,000 graduates.

CEO magazine researchers carried out this survey across 127 countries using 19 criteria under two broad categories – liveability and professional opportunities.

Liveability was assessed under metrics like pollution, affordability, income inequality, quality of life, nature and park, economic stability, workforce diversity, housing affordability, projected population growth, average monthly workplace earnings museums and galleries; sights and landmarks; concerts and shows.

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Professional opportunities were measured using job availability, progressiveness, robust economies, entrepreneurial atmosphere, unemployment rate, new start-ups per 100,000 residents, graduate opening per 100,000 residents and current and prior year’s employment growth rate.

The ranking is not so much of a surprise as Nigeria is still lagging behind in most of the metrics taken into consideration in the survey.

Employment and job availability

The unemployment rate rose to 27.1 percent in Q2’2020 from 23.1 percent recorded in Q3 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

According to the Bureau, youth employment declined from 44.2 million in Q3 2018 to 40 million in 2020.

“Employment and job creation are largely underwhelming in Nigeria,” said Gbolahan Olugunro, research analyst at Lagos-based CSL Stockbrokers.

“On one hand, employers are making the case that some graduates are unemployable due to the absence of technical skills required for the job,” Olugunro said.

“The employment conditions in Nigeria make it difficult to start a career in Nigeria,” said Oluebube Ezeoke, a senior analyst at Enzo, Krypton and Company.

“An average Nigerian graduate is not skilled enough to meet the heavy requirement for employment, making it hard to get a job. The poor average starting salary also makes it difficult to invest in personal development while on the job,” she said.

Speaking further, Ologunro said there’s need to re-brand the syllabus in the tertiary institution to make graduates more employable.


Nigerians are having one of their worst years as petrol prices and electricity prices have been recently increased causing more pain for the population.

The depot price of premium motor spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol has been increased to N151.56 per litre, up from N148 per litre. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has approved the increase of electricity tariffs from 30.23 per kwh to 66 per kwh.

Inflation rate also jumped to 13.22 percent in August, most in 29 months, driven by the food prices which hit 16 percent in August from 15.24 percent in July.

The World Bank has also estimated that the poverty rate will increase from 40.1 percent in 2019 to 42.5 percent in 2020, dragging 5 more million Nigerians into poverty this year.

Entrepreneurial atmosphere

Nigeria’s environment is not so conducive for doing business, as there are challenges which make running a business in Nigeria difficult.

Although Nigeria moved 15 places to rank 131st on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 index compared to its 2019 spot but experts have said that does not necessarily mean an improved country.

“The business environment is not suitable for small scale producers; the poor operating conditions, infrastructural challenges, and epileptic power supply make it hard to do business in Nigeria,” Ologunro said.

New start-ups

The survival rate for most business start-ups in Nigeria is low. A report by Weetracker in collaboration with GreenTec Capital Africa Foundation ranked Nigeria seventh on the continent in the top ten countries with the greatest number of start-up shutdowns. The rate of start-ups failure in Nigeria is at 61.07 percent, according to the report.


Pollution is still a major challenge in Nigeria. According to the World Bank, “58 percent of all Nigerians lack access to basic sanitation and 47 million people still practice open defecation, a number second only to India”.

Pollution, especially air pollution is dangerous to the health of Nigerian workforce.

Way forward

Human capital development

“The government needs to invest in health and education to boost the productivity of Nigerians,” Ezeoke said.

According to the World Bank, Nigeria will lay a good foundation for long-term growth by investing in Nigeria’s children, youth and women as the country has the sixth-lowest Human Capital Index in the world.

Nigeria is also about to overtake India as the country with the most under-5 child deaths in the world, over 700,000 a year, according to the Bank.

One in every three children under five years of age (32percent) suffers from chronic malnutrition, among the highest in the world.

Nigeria will need to prioritize the health and education of its citizens to achieve a sustained growth and make Nigerian youths more competitive.

Investing in SMEs

SMEs contribute 48 percent of national GDP, account for 96 percent of businesses and 84 percent of employment. This makes the SMEs very vital to the economy.

“The SMEs contributes largely to the growth of country; Nigeria must invest more in SMEs to make the country more conducive to start a career,” Ezeoke said.

Despite the significant contribution of SMEs to the Nigerian economy, challenges still persist that hinder the growth and development of the sector.

“The government must resolve challenges hindering business success in Nigeria by creating good infrastructures and good power supply,” Ologunro said.

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