1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigeria's unemployment problem, which affects both educated and unskilled workers, has emerged as one of the most pressing and contentious challenges facing the country today. The unemployment scenario has shifted from one characterized by protracted periods of unemployment and under employment to one in which graduates from higher institutions must typically wait for a considerable period of time before landing their first job – if they are lucky enough to land one at all. At the start of this millennium, the job problem has emerged as the most difficult issue affecting many countries throughout the world. Global economic conditions are bleak as a result of the ongoing global economic slump and the uncertainty surrounding economic growth expectations. Many economies were thrown into a deep recession as a result, and the ripple effects of this have harmed the employment markets (Hassan, 2013).
Bizarrely, Nigeria like other developing country has one of the appalling rates of youth unemployment in the world, with 60-65 percent of the population under the age of 25. (Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity Report, 2008). The majority of them are young adults who have graduated from universities, polytechnics, or other institutes of higher learning in the past several years. Approximately 1.6 million people, largely young adults, graduate each year, according to the most recent available estimate. There are an additional 3.8 million certificate-carrying youths who have no formal education, or who have finished elementary and secondary school but have dropped out of higher institutions, who are poured into an already oversaturated labor market each year(Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity Report, 2008).
Many of Nigeria's youngsters are not productive and have been reduced to small merchants and smugglers; in many instances, the development in the phenomena of it is apparent that the country's unemployment rate has reached an undesirable level in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, the labor market in Nigeria is perilously close to becoming saturated.
Concerned economists and policy analysts are urging the government to create a favorable environment for the operation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) because it has the potential to generate employment opportunities for the hordes of job-seeking Nigerians who swarm the streets in search of non-existent white-collar positions. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent for much over half of the entire share of employment sales and value created, according to previous research by Ogujiuba, Fadila, and Stiegher (2013) and Musa and Aisha (2012). Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the most feasible and reliable vehicle for self-sustaining industrial growth because they have the potential to cultivate an indigenous company culture more effectively than any other technique. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the sub-sector that should receive special attention in any significant economic restructuring program that aims to generate employment, alleviate poverty, ensure food security, accelerate industrialisation, and reverse rural-to-urban migration.
Importantly, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been a popular word in the business world for many years. This is due to the fact that the sector serves as a catalyst for the creation of jobs, national growth, poverty reduction, and overall economic development. When compared to the larger sectors, including multinational corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout the world can claim of being the largest employers of labor (Kadiri, 2012). Because SMEs contribute to employment growth at a higher rate than larger firms, the performance and growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are important drivers and indicators of the level of industrialization, modernization, and urbanization, as well as gainful and meaningful employment for all those who are able and willing to work, equitable distribution of income, welfare, income per capital, and quality of life enjoyed by the citizenry (Aremu and Adeyemi, 2011). The small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector, which has gained international prominence, is seen as a key driver of economic growth and job creation in both emerging and developed countries (Kpleai, 2009).
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Without a doubt, Nigeria's objective of ranking among the world's top twenty economies by 2020 will be impossible to attain in a socioeconomic climate marked by hunger, poverty, and unemployment among a large part of the country's population. It is worth noting, however, that the imperialist-inherited age-long formal education produced graduates with job-seeking mindsets rather than job-creation mindsets; they thus lack entrepreneurial traits like self-motivation, drive, and innovation required by the world of work and employers of labor (Towobola and Raimi, 2011; Raimi et al., 2011; Simkovic, 2012).
Furthermore, with the nation's population expanding at a geometric proportion relative to job placement developing at an arithmetic progression, it became clear that the nation's formal education is fueling unemployment, crime, and the cycle of poverty as graduates were unable to be absorbed. It then dawned on the government that there is an urgent need to address the socio-economic implications of idleness and hopelessness, with policy observers urging the government to consider entrepreneurship education as a tool for reducing unemployment in Nigeria through the establishment of SME's, because the strength of any economy in the world requires the birth of a large number of small and medium enterprises. Anyanwu (2019), on the other hand, contended that, despite the existence of SME's, joblessness still exist in Nigeria, and so he disputes to a considerable extent whether SME's have played any significant part in the supply of employment. It is upon this premise that this study seeks to the role of small and medium enterprises on employment generation.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of the study is to examine the role of small and medium enterprises on employment generation using in Ogun state. Other specific objectives include;
i. To examine the prevalence of unemployment in Ogun State, Nigeria
ii. To find out factors contributing to the high rate of unemployment in Ogun State.
iii. To ascertain the extent at which Small and Medium Enterprise has contributed to employment generation in Ogun State
iv. To examine the role of the SMEs sector in empowering youth with self reliance in Ogun State.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The undertaking of this study will consider the following research questions:
i. What is the prevalence of unemployment in Ogun State, Nigeria?
ii. What are the factors contributing to the high rate of unemployment in Ogun State?
iii. What is the extent at which Small and Medium Enterprise has contributed to employment generation in Ogun State?
iv. What is the role of the SMEs sector in empowering youth with self reliance in Ogun State.