• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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BusinessDay

Why young people make wrong career choices

The absence of proper guidance and counseling for many young people is the reason behind their inability to make right choices whether in the pursuit of education or in their work careers. With a steady decline in the country’s education system in the last three decades, the place of guidance and counseling at secondary and tertiary levels has been jettisoned.

Unarguably, while education faculties in tertiary institutions still offer courses on guidance and counseling, very few secondary schools or tertiary institutions have functional guidance and counseling programmes for their students. Even in most workplaces, the HR people, managers/supervisors hardly live up to guidance and counseling responsibilities as a way of staff mentorship. The outcome of this failure in mentorship is the prevalence of a growing number of youths who are not adequately empowered to make right educational and career choices, leading to mis-direction of talent, career failures and loss of productivity in the economy.

What really is guidance and counseling? Of what relevance is this twin process? The Encyclopaedia Britannica explains that this twin process “involves helping individuals discover and develop their educational, vocational, and psychological potentialities and thereby to achieve an optimal level of personal happiness and social usefulness…The function of those who guide children and young people is not to effect a compromise between the requirements of individuals on the one hand and the demands of the community on the other. It is rather to orient the individual toward those opportunities afforded by his environment that can best guarantee the fulfillment of his personal needs and aspirations”

I have observed young people who pursued educational options that were clearly at variance with their potentialities just because they wanted to be part of the crowd or satisfy parental aspirations. Many who toed this path either had difficulties in their education or were later ‘pushed’ into work careers that they didn’t have the innate aptitude for. They just clog the wheel of progress and productivity wherever they are. The result is an unfulfilled life.

The guidance and counseling function for young people at the secondary education level should evolve methods of detecting the innate capabilities of students and counsel appropriately on what subjects of study, activities or professional careers that can assist these students bring out such capacities or make them stronger. Even at tertiary level, guidance and counseling is still relevant.

As an undergraduate in the Nigerian University system in the 1980s, I still remember the place of Academic advisers. Students were assigned to some Lecturers to advise them in their academics. These advisers were to interface with students on issues like choice of elective courses, change of academic programmes, and motivation and guidance to achieve  better academic performance.  I wonder if this practice is still prevalent or has been eclipsed by the decay in the educational system.

It is easy for the older generation to dismiss the upcoming youths as valueless, directionless and poorly equipped. But what is the contribution of educational institutions and the larger society towards empowering the youths to make choices that are in accordance with their innate talents? Have we invested enough in making our youths imbibe proper values that would make them add better value to themselves and society?

Let the blame game stop. And let us all take responsibility for our failures. Every generation has a duty to guide the next generation. Mentorship of young people is a responsibility that should not be treated with levity. Governments, communities, parents, educational institutions and work places must take it up not in a despotic fashion but in a way that provides room for young people to express their identities.

IKENNA OBI