Surviving With A Dwindling Profession In A Progressing World
The world is changing speedily. Scientists say that the surface of the earth at the equator moves at a speed of 460 meters per second, or roughly 1,000 miles per hour. This movement is what takes us to new days, new weeks, months and years. Imagine the baby you carried in your hands at the time of delivery growing past you in a few years later.
Life is all about growth. And growth is nothing but changes. Ever heard the saying, ‘change is constant’? Yea, change is inevitable. It occurs in almost everything in life.
Years back, there exist so many professions that brought people to fame. I recall when watch repairers call the shots in the society; when postmasters and mail runners live large in the society – a time when typists go home with fat salaries every month. These are in the past now. Reason? Change. This same change can in no time sweep away the work of a cashier, newspaper delivery, travel agencies, taxi drivers, etc. These can be replaced by self-checkout machines, electronic reading machines, travel websites, mobile apps, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence software, etc.
Apart from the above, there are reasons to fear that certain leading professions might suffer new entrants in the near future. Some of these professions were the envy of the people before. I can recall vividly those days when a whole community will gather to rejoice with families whose children/wards got admission to higher institutions. Going to universities those days was like going to heaven. Notably, these are no longer the case today.
In those days, companies, ministries and government agencies run over each other just to employ a better candidate for their organization. The competition was high, with better offers – good salaries, official vehicles, houses, etc. The reverse is the case today, as young graduates spend years at home looking for where to work, giving bribes to get employed, battling with age limit for employment, and all worth not. The table has truly turned!
The situation does not know whether you read the best courses or you just graduated with any course of study. After battling with the hustles and bustles that are inherent at school, you are greeted with a stark reality of NO JOB! Some may argue that it depends on the course that one read. To avoid arguing too much, let’s take a look at the following courses:
Engineering – It used to be a great honour and achievement for one to become a graduate of engineering. Engineers were highly revered. Upon graduation from the university, employment opportunities with better pay, always await an engineer. The story is different today. There are many unemployed engineers doing menial jobs just to survive. Ordinarily, engineers are meant to invent, design, analyse, build and test machines, complex systems, structures, gadgets and materials to fulfil functional objectives and requirements while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety and cost. Their work is the link between scientific discoveries and the commercial applications that meet societal and consumer needs. In Nigeria, engineers are losing their relevance. There are so many engineers as there are professionals. It is only a few engineering graduates that respect the mandatory four years work experience in his chosen field of study before certification.
Apart from that, engineering practice in Nigeria is faced with poor funding, inadequate equipment, students’ population explosion without commensurate facilities, lack of high-quality manpower in terms of trainers and teachers and poor attitude of employers. As a result, it is no longer fashionable for one to spend years in the university reading engineering that will only give him a paper qualification without the corresponding know-how or employment. People now turn away from engineering for other courses so long as they are graduates; a qualification that can earn them employment in whatever area of their choice.
I have once met an engineer working as a teller in a bank. Many of them are in the farms, others turned to teachers, both in public and primary schools. There are also those who picked up political appointments, etc. Only a few survive in this field as private practitioners.
Law – The joy of becoming a lawyer and what the profession represents can make parents sell their choice properties simply to have their children/wards graduate and practice law. The law profession has a vast opportunity like seeking to work in government offices and other alternatives like corporate law, patent, etc. With a law degree, professional choices in various fields of managerial, corporate and legal administrations are opened. Lawyers can work in circular newspapers or Radio/TV media, as company secretaries or teach law in schools. Many law graduates today are struggling to find their footing. Many have gone out of their ways to struggle with market men/women over what to buy and sell to earn a living. Some of them flood the court premises in the name of charge and bail jobs, a daily hustle apache that only a few of them survive from.
A set of diversified ones follow land/house agents to drag clients. This has made a lot of people to put a wide demarcation among them. Now we have LAWYERS and BARRISTERS, meaning the real charge and bail (in coats) and the ones with portfolios (dressed in suites).
All these emanated from poor law reporting, exploitation of young lawyers by law firms, unauthorized intrusion by non-practitioners, corruption, exploitation by clients, etc. Other challenges that face one in taking law as a career in Nigeria include admission racketeering, stress, long hours of work, soaring law school fees, competitive job market, non-patronage, changing legal paradigms, technology, legal process outsourcing. All these not only scare, but deny prospective lawyers the opportunity of venturing into the profession of their choice.
Medicine – Reading medicine in Nigeria is a herculean task. For many doctors, the pinnacle of their career is completing a specialist training programme or residency. This qualifies them as specialists. Getting into one of these programmes is not easy. There is the cost of the qualifying primary examinations. There is also a high failure rate in these examinations.
In all, doctors command respect, and are very important too. That makes them a very proud people. They can hardly agree with other practitioners. They find it hard to trust other persons who have knowledge of medicine thereby jeopardizing further medical research. As a result of the high regard people accord to doctors, the profession accommodated so many doctors that are not passionate in saving lives. Victims of circumstances and children of necessities flood the profession. Many doctors today were forced to study medicine against their wishes. Surviving in harsh economies becomes a factor in determining a person’s choice of course in life. This helped to place several round balls in square holes. Rich parents buy admissions for their children/wards to study courses they have no flair for, displacing the right people who have passion for the profession.
In other to find satisfaction and free their consciences, many of these doctors now delve into paid employment in government and other organizations where they do not practice medicine. The motive is just to earn salary and survive. Some doctors today are in politics, while others are succeeding as farmers, some take to music, movie acting and film making, while many are into fashion designing as professional tailors. The World Health Organisation (WHO) once announced that Nigeria has one of the highest doctor-to-population ratio in Africa. According to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), there are 72,000 nationally-registered Nigerian doctors, but only 35,000 are practicing in the country. This gives a deficit of over 260,000 doctors, going by the Nigerian population.
Nurses – Nurses are relational in nature. Relationships make life meaningful, and nurses do not need to worry about living without significant connections. They bond a lot with people – colleagues, patients, etc. One more serious thing about them is that they are always ready to respond to unexpected developments and patient emergencies. It is in their nature to show respect and compassion for their patients.
As the saying goes, ‘it takes a special person to be a nurse!’ Most of the times, patients prefer them to the doctors. This is not unconnected with their attitude of practicing on the frontlines of patient care. In any hospital settings, nurses are the ubiquitous personalities that easily turn into the eyes, ears and voice of healthcare.
One of the degrading factors affecting this profession is the reckless use of auxiliaries in the place of professionals. Auxiliary nurses earn less and can be humble enough to be ordered around anyhow. They can do any form of unprofessional job. What they need is to be taught how to handle syringes and inject patients. In any given hospital in Nigeria, both public and private, the ratio of auxiliary nurses to professionals remains 3:1. This unprofessional conduct of healthcare providers has killed the morale of prospects to pick up nursing as a profession.
In the search of better identity, many of these professionals have ventured into private patent medicine store businesses, maternity home services, clinics, etc, with so many others jetting out of the country in search of greener pastures.
Journalism – Doing the work of interviewing a wide range of people with diverse backgrounds is a huge perk in the life of a journalist. He is constantly exposed to new characters and needs to hear their stories, research and opinions. It is truly a great career for social spirits. Journalism is fast losing its cultural relevance and commodity of value. The core crisis is not about business models, quality, ethics, or trust, but NEWS. Journalism is nothing, without news, and news which is the heart of journalism is dying!
Globalization is killing news. The invention of global satellite televisions, affordable international air travel, the internet and the social media, all have made news a dying commodity. News once dominated, and made journalists look like demi-gods. Today, news has lost its monopoly on the sense of globalism it once generated and governed.
Years back, journalists go after newsmakers to extract information for public consumption. News was scarce, and the best and most versatile journalist carries the day. They were the custodians of anything new, as long as information dissemination is concerned. Today is different. Newsmakers prefer their social network handles, websites, etc to air their personal and official views. While journalism retains its pride of place in the lives of people, yet NEWS is dying. Every Dick and Harry has turned into a journalist – doctors, engineers, lawyers, students, farmers, etc. What you need is just a camera-phone, you are good to go. You have, though unprofessionally, become a photojournalist – taking pictures of events, reporting matters and having them broadcasted through a channel of your choice.
Just like other professionals, the work of a professional journalist is truly at risk, even though the profession is alive and active! No wonder you see these professionals today in the payroll of government officials writing their memoirs, some have turned to farming, others have become stooges and propaganda machines to certain powerful individuals, blackmailing and creating ripples in the air, etc. In the better part, some have engaged themselves into meaningful ventures like education, advocacy services and media consulting.
The question that begs for an answer is this, how more, will these professionals survive in the midst of a changing world with all its attending distractions?