Despite the deep-rooted academic inefficiencies and irregularities that have consequently led to the delay in the graduation of many students, many of these students deemed it fit to graduate from these institutions hoping to get jobs that will compensate for their struggles.
Unfortunately, many employers are denying them of this recompense by inconsiderately seeking job applications from applicants within a particular age range.
Students in public tertiary institutions have been subject to different national maladies, the incessant strike is a sombre situation that has left many undergraduates hopeless and disadvantaged. However, the age discrimination faced by many young people after graduation from tertiary institutions seems to be more unfavourable.
Many employers now make age discrimination so open that no one is ready to challenge this fast growing anomaly. Employers clearly state their preferred age range in job adverts hereby forcing some relatively young graduates out of the employment race.
Some employers fix their preferred age range as low as twenty-three, this is not just ridiculous it is insensitive on the part of employers to the problems many young Nigerians are facing.
With the current situation of things in public institutions where a four-year course turns out to be completed in six years, where a 22-year-old final year student is not sure of when he or she is graduating, it is quite irrational for any employer to put out requirements that clearly deprive individuals of employment opportunities because of their age.
Basically, the major requirement that is to be considered by many employers includes skills, knowledge and abilities of the applicants.
Sadly, many graduates who have met these basic requirements are still not considered for employment all because they do not fit into a particular age range.
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According to a report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the youth unemployment rate is 53.40 percent with people between the age of 25 to 34 having the unemployment rate of 37.2 percent.
With this lousy report, it is a clear sense of unpatriotism for any employer to further reject graduates who are between the age of 25 to 34, especially when they are qualified for the job.
Such unjustifiable decision is inimical to the productivity and economic growth of the nation, it is a waste of human talents.
Sad to say, there has been no form of clear regulation on the part of Nigerian government as regards to this discrimination in the recruitment process of employees.
Government institutions that have been saddled with employment regulations are doing next to nothing to stop this differential treatment towards Nigerian graduates and many other employable Nigerians.
The Nigerian Labour Act that happens to be the major extant legislative authority with respect to labour matters in the country does not make provision against age discrimination, hence, many employers believe their decisions are not illegal.
However, in order to solve this problem the Nigerian government should enact laws that make provision against age discrimination with respect to recruitment of employees.
Many developed countries have been able to curtail some of the employers’ excesses by making laws that prohibit such discrimination.
For example, the United States has the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) which forbids age discrimination against anyone who is at least 40 years of age. Also, there is the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations in the United Kingdom that states that anyone under the age of 65 cannot be denied an employment offer.
Also, as much as employment relations are willingly agreed upon by parties and it is the right of an employer to employ any candidate of his choice, it is also expedient that employers consider the dynamics of our educational system. They should consider the ability, skills and knowledge of job applicants rather than their age, this will inevitably restore the hope of many young Nigerians and also create a sense of fairness and equity.
In conclusion, age requirement as a precondition for employment is unjustifiable and should be nullified.
Oyegoke, an undergraduate of Federal University Oye-Ekiti, writes from Abeokuta, Ogun State