Investment in higher education brings expected economic benefits to employers, the economy and individuals. But, while much is talked about the contribution and value of higher education to the Nigeria’s economic success, in reality most of the supporting evidence is on benefits to individuals.There is a growing body of evidence, mostly in the South Africa but increasingly also in the Nigeria, which shows that attainment of higher education qualifications improves an individual’s economic prospects in terms of higher lifetime earnings1, and also their greater likelihood of being employed, though this can vary according to the quality of their higher education experience 2.
Evidence linking organisational performance with higher education qualifications or higher learning and skills is more problematic. While links between skills and learning and a country’s innovation and performance have been established through a number of international comparative studies3, and higher education has been shown to be a major factor underpinning a country’s economic performance4, it is arguable how much an increase in skills or qualifications in the workforce of individual firms leads by itself to greater productivity in them, or the economy as a whole. Only a few studies have been able to show direct links between investment in higher levels of qualifications of employees and improvements in firms productivity and performance, and the measures are fairly loose5.
Most conclude that improved productivity is a function of a combination of factors such as strategic repositioning, investment in R&D and in capital, including in human capital. Where the value of employing graduates has been given a focus,research has not tended to distinguish between different levels of higher education qualification.
Furthermore, research on how graduates and their skills are needed and used by employers has been mainly about first degree graduates6 with only a few addressing the use of...