Articles > John Gora

Opportunity Cost

Opportunity Cost

Opportunity Cost

A graduate driving taxi and a first-class honors graduate (Actuarial Science) sweeping the streets. A bright young learner from primary school, due to the state of their family income, chooses to take up a `jua kali ‘ job (a person, businessman, or entrepreneur that can undoubtedly fix or practically do anything upon request. )


Such is the scenario in many countries largely in the third world countries and these are just a few whose stories came to light.

They represent many more in similar situations that shall never make the headlines. This is nothing to joke about. Something is not right somewhere. But let’s examine it further.



Sweeping the streets needs no Ph.D., which means, this man is underemployed. Underemployment comes in three ugly faces.

⁃ A highly skilled/educated man in a job that doesn’t need those skills because of over-qualification.

⁃ The second way is where the right skills are only used partially, as in a part-time job. The employee is underused. A majority fall within these two.

⁃ The third is mostly a problem in government offices and is tied to the second one where too many employees for a job that requires less. For most of the working hours, the employees are idle. It’s a case of inefficiency and poor resource use and leads to burnout syndrome.


What is the truth? Pride and Un/Underemployment


But before you pity a graduate doing odd jobs, there’s a case for opportunity cost. Considering utility in terms of money, pleasure, and convenience, a graduate may choose a different path, including the ‘odd job,’ instead of his career. For example, thinking about money, an Engineer may figure out that it pays more to run a restaurant or supply vegetables than stay in the office. Why not? This is true for many people but a majority are trapped in their pride, or inflexibility with current obligations like family. My take; this is not a bad idea. Unused skills may disappear or be outdated but it’s better than getting stuck in a job you don’t like for the sake of image or career.


But there’s everything to worry about qualified people with no jobs at all. The more they are, the easier it is to be abused by employers. Employers will not only raise the bar unreasonably, but they will also offer less in return knowing that many people are desperate. Social problems associated with despondency are too numerous.


At a time when corruption scandals are in billions (no longer millions), money that could build factories and infrastructure to employ our people, we are sitting on a time bomb. Things cannot continue like this. We need a change in systems and morals. We are not only wasting resources in educating our people for skills that are not used in the end, but we are also killing the whole generations. We are killing Nations.