I've been wanting to talk about my recent observations on the Nigerian labour market, so I might as well just bare.

Sometime ago, I tweeted about how it won't be long before Nigerian employers began showing preference for graduates of a particular school or group of schools. And just yesterday, I came across startling job listings which seemed to validate my projections.

The world over, top organizations often reveal how maximal business productivity is peculiar to products of certain institutions, and in USA's case, the Ivy League schools come highly recommended. In fact, statistics have revealed that Ivy Leaguers not only have a higher employability rate in whatever field they may find themselves, they also earn way more than non-Ivy Leaguers and go well on to have more expansive and lucrative careers.

Today, Nigerian employers appear to have begun adopting similar recruitment policies both surreptitiously and conspicuously, depending on their market space. And for a country where quantity dominates quality, opportunities available to the sparse population of private university students will increasingly overshadow that of the teeming population of subpar tertiary institutions graduates, unless the public schools answer the constant wake up call from reality.

Currently, Covenant and Babcock Universities boast of enabling learning environments where students tap into ample resources provided them to bolster their academic pursuits. And while these may come at a high price, there's little or no excuse that could be provided by public institutions who exploit numerous avenues to generate income from students, sponsors and the government. Simply put, public schools can't decry paucity of funds, given how poorly they've done with what's been made available to them over the years.

According to the 2017 NBS Q3 report, 34 million graduates were found to be either unemployed or underemployed. So, that tells you how inconsequential degrees are fast becoming. Henceforth, transiting from an employment desert to a lush labour rainforest will require a sheer sense of commitment to personal & professional development and if you will, the special grace of God.

What you're not taught in school, you must teach yourself. It's the only way you can compete or outshine an Ivy Leaguer.

The average data expended on 30 Instagram skits on Pulse Nigeria, Kraks TV or Gossip Mill can allow you complete a 6-week course on Coursera or FutureLearn, and these are courses that help garnish your CV and render them appealing to employers. Where you didn't attend premium schools, your personal development records suffice. You must set priorities.

Last Thursday, I attended a career fair organized by the Pan Atlantic University for B.Sc & M.Sc students and boy, you could easily tell why some of these students excel at interviews and land quality jobs. Students got preliminary and compound interview sessions with the end goal of securing summer/graduate internships at top organizations. It's almost as though the school authority were determined to enable students succeed by all means. PwC, KPMG, Chevron, Shell, GTB, Redcare HMO, Chapel Hill etc. were some of the prospective recruiters at the event.

So, next time you don't get a call a recruiter in spite of how "suitably qualified" you believed you were for the job, just bear in mind your school or professional qualification might have done you great disservice, much to the advantage of the Covenant/Babcock/UNILAG applicant. Where those ones aren't qualified, they make an impression with diction, appearance and charisma - anything to get them through the door.

By the way, this is not the time to blame UNN, FUTO, LASU or Bayero University. What have students departmental associations done with money sourced from various sponsors? It's not enough to organize dinner and awards night, symposia or cultural day, invest that money in your future. Barge into offices and enjoin HR professionals to attend career fairs you've organized. There's probably an age-long uninformed perception about your school, correct it in your own little way.

Finally, ask yourself, what's your selling point? Is it tangible? Is it transferable? When an interviewer asks you to "tell us about yourself", they're not interested in your birthplace or religious inclination, they need you to market yourself. So, it's not enough to scream unemployment. Sometimes ask, are you employable? Heck! How proficient are you in Microsoft Office? The same way people no longer buy manual transmission cars is how employers no longer recruit pen and paper graduates. The world has gone digital, so everything is computerized. You need to be relevant.

Bottom line, don't be static.