Entrepreneurship skills and career performance among self-employed university graduates in North-West Geo Political Zone of Nigeria

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Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Business Management
Drawing upon human capital theory, this study examined the effect of entrepreneurship skills on career performance of 319 self-employed university graduates in northwest geopolitical zone of Nigeria. The examined three objectives and research questions in establishing the relationship between; 1) planning skills; 2) interpersonal skills and 3) financial management skills and career performance of graduates. The study employed a cross sectional and descriptive correlational survey design. A researcher made questionnaire was used to collect data from the graduates who were selected using systematic random and purposive sampling techniques. Data analysis was done using frequencies and percentage distributions, means and standard deviations, factor analysis and structural regression equation modeling using partial least square (PLS-SEM). The findings on the profile characteristics of the graduates revealed that there were more male self employed graduates than females (63.6%> 36.4%), most of them were between 20-30 years (47.3%), majority had a bachelor’s degree (48.6%), were from social sciences (65.8%), owned a limited liability company (53.9%), were from printing and publishing sector (43.3%) and had stayed in business for less than three years (53.3%). Career performance of the self-employed graduates was rated moderate (overall mean = 2.04) on a four-point Likert scale. Mean ratings on entrepreneurial skills were; i) planning skills were found to be very high (overall mean = 3.32); ii) interpersonal skills were also rated very high (overall mean 3.27) and iii) financial skills were rated very high (overall mean 3.27). The results from partial least squares structural equation model supported the hypothesized direct effect of entrepreneurship skills on career performance. Specifically, there was a significant relationship between; i~) planning skills in general and career performance (r -.247, p = .000; Adjusted R .346, F = 3 3.734, p .000). Marketing (Beta = -.322, p .000) and customer service (Beta = -.086, p = .010) were the most important planning skills in enhancing career performance; ii) there was a significant positive relationship between interpersonal skills in general and career performance (r .127, p = .026; Adjusted R2 = .082, F = 5.570, p = .000). Leadership skills (Beta .145, p .000), networking skills (Beta = .118, p = .047) and team building skills (Beta -.131, p .014). However, the hypothesized significant relationship between financial management skill and career performance was not fully found (r .039, p .491; Adjusted R2 .068, F 6.640, p = .000). Only bookkeeping skills (Beta .124, p = .000) positively and significantly influenced career performance. The researcher concluded that entrepreneurial skills in general significantly influence career performance of the graduates. Entrepreneurship skills acquired through the mandatory entrepreneurship education programmer for undergraduate students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria are an important consideration in helping self-employed graduates to enhance their career performance. The researcher recommended that the entrepreneurship education curriculum needs to be enhanced by ensuring that its content is in line with the skills required in the job market. From this study, graduates exhibited a high level of skills, but their career performance did not match it, an indicator that the content could be having a problem.
A dissertation presented to the College of Economics and Management Kampala International University Kampala Uganda in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Award of a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Business Management (Entrepreneurship Management Option)
Entrepreneurship skills, Career Performance, Self-Employed university graduates