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At Harness Your Dream, professionals guides youths on informed career choice

By Daniel Anazia
23 December 2017   |   4:17 am
With the recent economic downturn and massive job loss across the world, including Nigeria, job dissatisfaction is at an all time high.

Facilitator/Employee of Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Abosede Adeniran; Senior Manager, Planning and Procurement, Promasidor, Idowu Osoneye; Principal, Oregun Junior High School, Mrs. Adenike Oresanya; Head of Legal/PR, Promasidor, Mr. Andrew Enahoro with students of Oregun Junior High School, at ‘Harness Your Dream’, a career guidance workshop, organised by Promasidor, makers of Cowbell Milk, at Oregun, Lagos

With the recent economic downturn and massive job loss across the world, including Nigeria, job dissatisfaction is at an all time high. Many university graduates are not sure of the kind of job they are seeking and are settling for underemployment or even no job at all. There is no doubting of the fact that there is need to realign the educational system to meet 21st century workforce demand.

It need be noted that by 1974, there were seven Federal Universities in Nigeria. Every one of these universities conducted its own concessional examination and admitted its students. However, this system of admission revealed serious limitations and quite often, wastes of resources in the process of administering the concessional examination especially on the part of the candidates.

With the establishment of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in 1978, there was in it’s brochure to show that the university system had any intention of preparing the Nigerian child for the role of a social media manager, an app developer or a data analyst. Yet, these are some of the most common job titles that pop up today when one searches new openings. As old jobs continue to falter, hitherto unheard specialists are becoming increasingly relevant.

Sadly, many people are still scared of the thought of the speed at which human needs and the methods of meeting them change. Unfortunately, this disruption has not only increased the number of academic programmes offered by universities but also toughened the complexity of choosing a course of study.

The fast-changing career environment has called for refreshing career guidance approaches. It also demands new skills among relevant experts. But beyond all these, the Permanent Secretary/Tutor General, Lagos State Education Ministry, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Onadipe, said a stronger working relationship between the public and private sectors is necessary to spread the awareness of new career trends to those who need it most.

Onadipe disclosed this at ‘Harness Your Dream’, a career guidance workshop, which Promasidor Nigeria Limited, a leading diary and other top quality products maker, such as Cowbell Milk, Loya Milk, Top Tea, Onga seasoning, organised for Oregun Junior High School, Ikeja, Lagos recently.

According to her, Lagos State Government had commenced an aggressive career awareness campaign among students. She, however, urged corporate organisations to join hands with the government to make the process much more effective.

Commending Promassidor for the initiative, the Permanent Secretary said the workshop was both relevant and timely, considering the huge need for professionals to complement the efforts of government to ensure that students make informed career decisions. She added that such collaboration is what the country needs to build an education system that is relevant to both national development and changing needs.

“I am very excited at the initiative. I am glad to know that a corporate organisation like Promasidor Nigeria is thinking in this direction. We need to nurture the kids as they grow; it is about catching them young. When we help them to nurture their career interests, they grow up with a clear picture of what they want to do. It is a noble idea, and I pray that other companies follow suit. The participants are currently in Junior Secondary School class three. What this means is that they already know the exact subjects they will focus on in their senior classes,” she said.

Contrary to the opinion of stakeholders, many students are aware that they need up-to-date information to do well in future. Much as they appreciate the efforts of their teachers in making their future glorious, they are not afraid to admit that they (teachers) have limited exposure. Thus, they are also calling on experts to support government’s efforts to show them the direction they should follow.

For Biodun Ajayi, a student of Oregun Junior High School and a participated in the workshop, it was high time the government developed a career awareness programme that is delivered by professionals. According to him, many teachers who are willing to guide students do not think beyond law, medicine, accounting and engineering.

“Many of our teachers, especially the older ones, are not exposed to new professions. I believe people who are already excelling in those areas should go to secondary schools regularly to expose students to the basics of their jobs. So, government should, occasionally, invite professionals to schools to interact with students about careers. This is why I am so happy with Promasidor Nigeria for organising the workshop for us,” he said.

Another participant, Ted Azikiwe, said the workshop exposed him to positive aspects of the Internet. “The knowledge is very useful and relevant to teenagers. Before now, I never knew that one could use the Internet for legitimate business. But I have realised that I can make money from it while going to school at the same time. I appreciate Promasidor Nigeria for the workshop,” he said.

Princess Ugonna, another beneficiary, noted that other schools in the state and across the country need such training and workshop. “Some students even get to Senior Secondary School Class Two before they know the right combination of subjects required for their favourite courses. So, I appreciate Promasidor Nigeria for organising the workshop and hope that other companies do the same.”

From the foregoing, it is obvious the secondary school system needs more than a single workshop to equip its products for the future. Hence, a reason the ‘Harness Your Dream’ workshop was not designed to be a one-off event.

Facilitated by employees of Promasidor Nigeria, the initiative does not speak to the challenge but also provides a template for addressing it. Apart from exposing the trainees to new options in the evolving Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, it treated emerging frontiers in accounting, finance, human resource management, business management, entrepreneurship and other popularly academic endeavours.

Speaking at the event, Managing Director Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Anders Einarsson, who was represented by the company’s Head of Legal/Public Relations, Andrew Enahoro, said the company does not start any initiative it will not sustain. He added that event is the pilot edition; hence, the company will continue to improve on it.

He said, “It can only get better and bigger, and we are committed to make it successful. It is a catch-them-young scheme. This implies that the young people who go through the process will have the rare opportunity of subjecting their options to a clinical test before they start learning the essential subjects required to be the best in their chosen professions. The programme will help every student that participates to utilise his/her passion and natural talent to make the right choice.

“We specifically target JSS 3 because that is the stage students begin to weigh their options. That decision is key in choosing a career direction in the future. The initiative also provides an opportunity for some of my colleagues who are experts in their fields to share their experiences with the students,” he added.

According to Einarsson, the scheme would help the students to know the changing needs and how they could utilise their talents to address them, adding that it is part of Promasidor Nigeria’s way of impacting the kids directly.

Sharing her childhood experience, radio presenter and actress, Omotunde Adebowale-David, popularly known as Lolo 1 or Adaku, stated that the workshop offered the participants a rare opportunity she did not have during her teenage days. She urged the participants to make full use of the privilege to make their future brighter.

According to on-air personality (OAP), there is no need being an average science student, for instance, when one could have been the best in the commercial class. She charged the participants to seek advice from both their tutors and successful people around them to know the areas they would excel at.

“JSS 3 is a crucial class; this is when students take decisions about their future. Students should make choices in line with their talents and ability. They should not be afraid to make their choices; they need to speak with professionals. This is why ‘Harness Your Dream’ is very useful; it offers teenagers the rare privilege I did not have. It will help them to take informed decisions that will make them successful,” she said.

The host principal, Mrs. Adenike Oresanya, described the workshop as a unique opportunity for both the school and its students, saying, participants emerged from the workshop more informed about career issues. She pointed out ICT, the Internet and entrepreneurship as the most interesting aspects of the programme.

She said, “The knowledge will help the students both now and in the future. They now know that there are other fields, besides Law and Medicine, where they can excel. They can go into ICT or computer engineering.

“They have also realised that they can use social media to make money. They have also been told that they can make money from any profession if they have passion for it and do it very well. I am grateful to Promasidor Nigeria for this noble idea, which will have a positive impact on Nigerian kids,” she added.

A facilitator, Mrs. Abosede Adeniran charged the students to consider their passion when making choice about academic discipline. She said, “one can only earn enough from a career if you love and do it very well.”

‘Harness Your Dreams’ is a CSR project of Promasidor Nigeria, and its thrust is to help public school students understand available careers and guide them in making suitable choices.