Do career guidance programs actually have any place in a nation like Nigeria?
We are aware of the fact that there are several policies that work in other nations that do not apply to our nation because of structural and cultural differences.
Is career guidance one of those? In this article, I’ll be covering the importance of career guidance and counseling in Nigerian schools (if there are any).
But first, let’s look at what career guidance is.
What Is Career Guidance?
Career guidance is the entire process of helping an individual settle and progress in a career that is best suited for them.
It starts from understanding the personality, abilities, and interests of the individual; bringing before them the several career options that exist; selecting the career that best matches their personality, abilities, and interest; entering into that career without restrictions, and adjusting to the demands of life and the career as they progress.
Through this definition, it is obvious that this is an all-encompassing process— one that starts before school (parents start observing the child’s personality) and continues even after school as they balance careers and the rest of life.
Why is Career Guidance Relevant in Schools?
Career guidance is usually very important during adolescence or school-age because this is the point where individuals make transitory and life-molding decisions that greatly determine the direction they take in life.
Although corrective measures can still be taken after school days to bring individuals back on track as it relates to their careers, it is usually easier and faster for the individual if they are properly guided to make informed decisions from a very young age.
For instance, a child who just discovers medicine is the best career option for him after he has graduated from University has a lot more work to do in correcting paths than a child who has discovered that right from junior secondary school.
This being said, career guidance does not end in schools only.
7 Benefits of Career Guidance in Nigeria
We have started seeing the role of career guidance already and why it is needed in schools. Now, I will be highlighting some benefits of career guidance beyond the school environment below
1. Improved quality of life for citizens
It is said that the average human spends 70% of their time doing things related to their chosen career. If this is true, it means individuals who are not settled in careers that are satisfying will be unsatisfied with 70% of their life.
Career guidance, because of this reason, is not just some set of programs to help students pass through school with good grades but an important intervention that can greatly influence how satisfying their adult life will be.
2. More effective workforce
When citizens settle in careers that best match their personalities, abilities, and interests, it not only helps them live satisfying lives but also increases their overall work output and brings more progress to the nation due to the increased strength of the workforce.
Rather than days of frustration, career guidance can make Monday mornings days of excitement for all. When workers are excited about their jobs they will put in their best and be more productive.
3. The world of work is full of numerous choices
As opposed to what used to be the case many years ago, the world of work is evolving and opening up several new career options. Once upon a time, there were only a few choices and less stress was attached to choosing because you are either this or that.
But as career choices increase, it both brings options for greater satisfaction and room for confusion. If individuals are not guided, they might remain lost and confused in the myriad of choices that exist and make uninformed decisions.
4. Unpredictability and continuous change in nature of jobs
With the daily influx of new technologies, many career paths are becoming unstable and unpredictable. Another front desk worker might just be replaced with an automated system tomorrow and the worker will be left in frustration.
Career guidance, however, can come in and keep the individual prepared for such happenings by guiding them to acquire relevant skills that will always be in demand regardless of changes that occur.
5. Healthier family and interpersonal relationships
More and more families are tearing apart in Nigeria today because one or both parents are so engrossed with their work and never make time for the family. Career counselors can help individuals draw out road maps to navigate through their careers in ways that will ensure their families are not sidelined while still being productive at their jobs.
6. Work-life balance
Another end individuals can fall to while giving their all to their jobs is to neglect themselves as individuals. This can lead to physical health complications like obesity and body pains, mental health issues like anxiety and stress disorders, burnout, and many others.
All of these, however, can be avoided through the input of career counselors in helping them chart a course for effective work-life balance and holding them accountable for sticking with the chartered course.
7. To cater to the gifted and talented
One demography of citizens that is usually not catered for is the gifted and talented. In addition to the diversity of career choices available to everyone in Society as we saw earlier, the gifted and talented face even more challenges because as individuals they already have more than enough choices in themselves to choose from.
This supposed strength and advantage, if not well taken care of, can become a weakness in that it stops them from picking and sticking to a particular career path which hinders them from making progress in it.
We have seen so far the important roles career guidance has to play in Nigeria. It improves the quality of life of citizens, creates a more effective workforce for the nation, creates more healthy families, and helps citizens remain physically and psychologically healthy.
Conscious efforts must therefore be made to advocate for career guidance and counselling beyond the four walls of schools to the entire nation.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.