This estimate is drawn from a survey of about 100 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), a compulsory one-year program for graduates in the country. According to the report, only 19 of the respondents have any form of digital skill, and all of the seven respondents with basic knowledge of programming, machine learning, and data science studied outside Nigeria; five in the UK, one in the United States, and one in Malaysia.
"Practical digital skills that would better prepare the youths for jobs and self-employment are all lacking in the current education system," the report said. "This situation, at a time when digital skills rule the world, is worrisome."
"I worked with four interns [and NYSC members] within the past few months & not a single one of them knew what Google Docs is," says Pamela Ephraim, a Nigerian journalist. The report names this lack of digital skills as one of the major reasons, why most graduates in the country are unable to secure employment.
For entry-level positions, HR experts say that the bare minimum digital skills required include the ability to carry out tasks, such as: communicating via email, researching information online, and safely using cloud-based collaboration tools like Google Docs, DropBox, and Microsoft Teams.
"The curriculum used in many Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions is outdated and does not adequately cover the practical aspect of relevant digital skills," according to Osita Oparaugo, CEO of GetBundi.
A few weeks ago, Google disclosed that it intends to train 20,000 Nigerian women and youth in digital skills and provide a grant of $1.6 million to help the government create one million digital jobs in the country. Bosun Tijani, the country's minister of communications, innovation, and digital economy, said that President Bola Tinubu's administration wants to train one million technical talents in the next two years.
It is also important to note that several initiatives by local and international companies have invested in the training of Nigerians, especially young people. In 2017, Google allocated $3 million for digital skills training in Nigeria, over 6 million people were trained through the project, according to the immediate past West Africa Director at Google, Juliet Ehimuan.
Code Plateau is a Plateau state-backed initiative that is also enhancing the digital skills of youths in the country. The program has trained more than 1000 people. There are also several communities including ambassadorship programmes by Nigerian tech startups that are offering digital skills training opportunities.
"Employers increasingly seek candidates with digital expertise, making it crucial for graduates to upskill to stay competitive and relevant in the job market," Ponfa Miri, the project manager of Code Plateau told Bendada.com. 'If 85% of graduates lack essential digital skills, it poses a significant challenge to their employability in today's tech-driven world."
Yusuf Ahmed, a digital skills trainer, who trained over 9000 youths through the Google Digital Skills for Africa initiative within three years, says that there has been some level of improvement among young people. "I have noticed that most students have better digital knowledge than past students," he told Bendada.com. Ahmed is based in Northern Nigeria, and through the Google project, he trained across various universities in the region.
According to Ahmed, the estimate might be less than 85%. "I think the number should be about 70%," he added.