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Career Choices: Why Nigerian Children should be guided

In spite of changing times, career dream of many Nigerian kids haven’t changed as much from our days from my recent observation. Why do I say this?

Well, I watched a TV kids’ programme on galaxy TV called “Pride of Tomorrow” where the kids dressed in their dream career uniforms, and the only newcomer to the old career choice list we have always fancied is from a girl, who said she will want to become a Chef in future. Interesting right? Yeah, Chef is becoming a profession to reckon with, especially for ladies and it is becoming highly sought after with the growing rate of the hospitality industry in Nigeria.

But unlike the girl, the rest are conventional career choices I had always known all my life as Doctor, Pilot, Engineer, Lawyer, Banker, Nurse, Police officer, Soldier & footballer. Nothing different and I became disturbed.

So, in spite of different changes in world demography of jobs of high demands and those that are most needed skilled jobs of high demand in Nigeria, many of these children are still not aware. I was expecting to see at least two or more persons to say I want to become a programmer, or a developer building apps and using tech to solve many problems and making certain tasks easier. And there is no harm in creating the interest and awareness about the potentials in these skilled courses in IT from childhood, afterall some kids built apps, in this same Nigeria, even though many are from privileged homes. Basil Okpara a 9yrs old boy who had built 9 games from his laptop and Tomisin Ogunnubi another 12yr who built app to track lost children called the locator are few examples we can reference to, to show it is better to start telling these children what services are greatly needed.

But this information are everywhere and accessible online, how come there is this little awareness? I kept wondering.

It shows career dreams here haven’t changed much. Very few kids know about other equally beautiful medical professionals; like Pharmacists, Medical Laboratory Scientists, Nutritionists, all of which are key stakeholders and highly sought after in the Health Care industry, after Nurses and Doctors.

I have written Jamb many times pursuing Medicine not really for any special interest but joining the fad, only to realize that there is a beautiful course at University of Ibadan called Human Nutrition. It drew my attention to an interesting course like Nutrition ever since. Of all the courses I offered in my undergraduate days, Nutrition & Food related courses were the most “impactful” for me. Many diet related illnesses killing today only need much touch of constant expert Opinions of Dieticians and Nutritionists. Malnutrition is everywhere in some rural places in spite of the abundance of large vegetations in the environment to live on. The ones living in slums in cities are not left out. And all what we need sometimes is a guide.

Pharmacy is a charming beautiful course that many science students don’t know about. And you can raise your shoulder high as much as a doctor anywhere in the world.

There are therapists in Medical Rehabilitation as a course or as Physiotherapists who look after human physiological fitness to ensure a child walks when he or she should, to look after the wellbeing of post surgery patients and accident victims, and those battling with conditions like Stroke.

Some Physio work as sports therapists – they help football players to become fit after injury.

These are not doctors but medical practitioners that are indispensable not only in Nigeria but around the world.

But how will many uninformed children know? And we wonder why everyone in science class in high school, who do well in Biology are applying for Medicine and those who can solve mathematics small are planning to become Engineers. It is because they don’t know any other ones.

They know Doctors are well respected and probably have money, a dreaming child will naturally want that too. No fault of theirs.

But these generally is affecting everyone of us.
We all want to study same course and we all managed to finish and still be chasing same limited Jobs, and we thereon become victims of CV writers confusion, thinking there is something we haven’t done well. No, sometimes nothing is wrong with the CV you are carrying, too many applicants sometimes calls for funny requirements. It is when 100 applicants are applying for 10 spaces that excuses like don’t put your age or gender comes in, just to make the recruiter clueless about your personality beyond Skills, Educational attainment and Working Experience – all set in. This is stemming from poor career planning. There are steps to take to help children to make the right career choices, but how many people know this? I met a boy at cyber cafe one day who chose Metallurgy as a course in Futa, and I was interested in what informed his choice, only for him to say he just like the name and there is one brother on his street at FUTA doing the course. So what do metallurgists do? I asked. Dude had no Idea. He just smile. There a many high school graduates like that who just choose courses for many funny reasons.

You will be surprised to hear that some students choose course because their best friend is interested in doing same and they pick same institutions just to be live close to each other. Lol.. Isn’t that funny? Not even a question of ability of Can I?

A girl I know that has written O-level three times and still looking for biology, chemistry and mathematics to make 5credits still told me with confidence days ago that she wants to become a doctor. I had to take my time to explain certain things to her, and advise her on what to do to achieve that, and other courses she can study as well, with ease.

I was at the Medical Doctors’ Induction ceremony of Unilorin only last week and one of the advises given by the Provost of the College – Prof Olanrewaju and from the guest speaker a Senior Consultant from Federal Medical Center Abuja, Dr. (Mrs) Rashidat Oniyangi is for the doctors to explore other options after medical training. Reference was made to the current Senator from Kwara, Dr. Oloriegbe and many others who were trained as Doctors but now in other fields.

The Provost also used the occasion to please with V.C Prof. Age to increase the MBBS admission quota from 150 to 180 because there always many brilliant qualified applicants being denied admission because the college have to raise the bar or cut to sieve out some.

And after school, these doctors still look out for Internship positions which today is even becoming a hell of an experience, because of limited spaces.

What’s then the way out?

Simple.

  1. Career Awareness: There seems to be very little information at Children’s disposal to make informed decisions on what they want to do with their lives. Every child’$ passion should be encouraged at school level and all must be discovered by parents, as much as we stop herd mentality. We can depopulate the number of Applicants rooting for Medicine by raising awareness in schools from primary to Secondary, on many other equally beautiful paths they can pursue. The Nigerian Society has a lot to do, as much as the media and concern bodies.

2. Abilities Questions should answered There are many people who have no business in medicine even though they are trained. I have read about many doctors doing other things right after school; some claiming it is stressful for their liking and some who become only doctors by peer pressure and parental influence. Interest & ability should be criteria for choosing a career.

3. Counseling Facilities; It should be a must for every school to have a counseling unit with trainers who will guide kids on what is best for them base on professional training to help kids to discover their talents and potentials. A child who shows great potential in numbers can be shown opportunities in ICT or Tech, which is the future of modern age, where there are more jobs but limited skilled applicants.

4. Stop Enforcing: It should become a crime for parents henceforth to be pressurizing their kids to do against their (the children’s) wish, if it is a right choice and very legitimate.

Those who want to embrace vacation should be allowed and should be made to see it as a career that is sought after. Telling a child that he can become a mechanic with technologies to analyze what is wrong with a car can have positive influence to change the way things are done. Just like Abiri the graduate mechanic whose interview by BBC and CNN went viral sometimes last year. Abiri learned about mechanics trade and skills mostly from watching YouTube. Today, he is like a doctor of cars fixing and auto repairs.

You don’t have to take cars to mechanic workshop for headache only to come back and realize the car’s stomach had been tampered with leading to stomach ache. Better skilled men and women can handle vacations better.

Some lives were lost into accident because one mechanic apprentice had forgotten to fasten one tyre bolt well, like it is revealed in that Kunle Afolayan’s movie mokaliki.

Showing a child that loves making hairs for friends innocently that she can be trained as an hair stylist and run a beautiful hair clinic like in the movie Jenifa Diary, where doctors, nurses, and many ladies can fix their hairs as much as 5,000 per hair, can make a big difference in career planning and development from childhood.

There was this career programme on NTA then like 13yrs ago, called VISTAS. The host now a channels TV presenter will bring all forms of professionals on live TV to talk to secondary school students drawn from different schools to learn and ask questions about the different professions.

Today, a university lecturer might be invited to give talks on how to become a University lecturer in Nigeria. What qualifications are needed, and requirements. I was chatting with a younger brother this morning, and he was surprised that there are two different kinds of masters degrees; and academic masters and a professional masters. I had to take time to explain the two, the merit and demerits.

This is what programmes like VISTAS used to inform students about but sadly the programme is no more being aired on TV.

We should be concern generally about career planning and choice making for kids as s nation for the benefit of their greater tomorrow. Today many live with regrets of how I wish someone told me this and that, this is exactly what I would have gone to study because I see my self best wired for this naturally.

Enough of everyone applying for courses because of ignorance, societal ratings and perception. Rather Government, Stakeholders, Experts and parents should jointly put policies and workable plan in place to ensure dream are tailored according to interest and ability, not beliefs, to avoid money missing road after schools, and lack of Career fulfilment.

Every courses should be seen as important if they have a dying need in our society and freedom of a child’s choice must be uphold.

We can get it right by planning.

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