A meta-analysis of extant academic literature suggests income inequality is persistent in both developed and developing nations in spite of demonstrable and significant economic growth. There are many theoretical, structural and empirical reasons for the widening gap between return to capital and labor on one hand, and compensation to management and workers on the other. For example, capital tends to be more productive, more mobile and receive very favorable tax treatment than labor in many jurisdictions.
Further, global competition, innovation, slower productivity growth, and marginal rate of technical substitution may be depressing wages even in developed nations. Moreover, the benefits of globalization continue to accrue more unevenly to highly skilled labor than to low skilled labor. Finally, periods of economic growth tend correlate with increasing income inequality because different economic sectors as well as individuals do not grow at the same pace.
As we have already explained in many publications on this topic, human capital analysis deals with acquired capabilities which are developed through formal and informal education at school and at home, and through on the job training, experience, and mobility and longevity in the labor market. Please note that nations as well as individuals are portfolios of distinctive competencies that derive from resources and capabilities. Many nations in the developing nations have plenty of resources but lack capabilities-the ability to put them to productive uses.
Clearly, mere possession of resources alone is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for economic development. Functional human capital that manifests in enhanced productivity and innovation is the critical and strategic link between resources and economic development. A preliminary analysis of macroeconomic data indicates that the problem of economic stagnation is not peculiar to developing nations nor confined there. Indeed, for many years in developing nations such as Nigeria, significant percentage of all graduates from institutions of higher learning are underemployed, have contract jobs with no employment benefits or no jobs at all even after the National Service and certification.
Many labor market experts and social observers are apt to point to the glaring lack of requisite knowledge and employable skills in high demand. While this may be true, lack of functional education that leads to employment is only part of the problem. There is significant and gathering empirical evidence suggesting that many of the employed university graduates in Nigeria go without pay or regular compensation for extended periods of time and still others are on contract employment with meager income and no employment benefits or guaranteed ongoing employment.
Before you postulate that skills acquisition is neither a panacea nor the fastest way to employment, please note that employable knowledge and skills are necessary but not sufficient condition for social mobility. This explains in part why many graduates from Colleges of Education and Technical Colleges in very high demand in tightening labor markets do not fare significantly better than those from Liberal Arts or even Business and Engineering Schools.
Therefore, the purpose of Skills Acquisition projects adopted by the Okwelle Skills Acquisition Center (OSAC) is to help graduates and entrepreneurs take effective steps toward functional education, knowledge and skills acquisition, self-employment, self-reliance and financial independence. As sure paths to the middle class and upward social mobility, any knowledge and skills acquisition project must focus on producing entrepreneurs-a crop of graduates with burning desire for self-employment, self-reliance and financial independence. The graduates must not only have requisite knowledge and skills of their specific trade but must be entrepreneurs who are business savvy with demonstrable grasp of business management knowledge and skills. Please note that all entrepreneurs are business owners but not all business owners are entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs are special breed of business owners that assume every risk in pursuit of profit and financial freedom. Without the entrepreneurial class other factors of production-land, labor and capital including technology remain dormant and are classified in our profession-financial engineering as non-performing assets. As some experts aptly put it, once you decide to work for yourself you never go back working for someone else. Generally, people do not plan to fail, they simply fail to plan. Additionally, freedom whether spiritual, economic or political is indivisible and must be pursued relentlessly. The passionate drive toward financial freedom is the critical difference that sets entrepreneurs apart.