I noticed since the beginning of the year, and even towards the end of last year, that most of the online newsletters and calls for training and seminars revolve around career development. It was as if the common New Year resolution made by everybody on earth was climbing the career ladder. My inbox was loaded with so many of these newsletters and announcements that I spent my holiday enjoying free career coaching, leadership training and business management tips.
But it got to a stage I had to ask myself why my fellow Nigerians remained unemployed and underemployed despite all these free priceless tips and training that filled the internet. I also couldn’t help wondering why we still have unprofessionalism as part of the challenges Nigeria encounters.
To help from my little corner, I started forwarding some of the newsletters to some of my unemployed contacts and re-shared most of the career tips. I also asked them to subscribe to those blogs and magazines for more tips. But I can bet you one thing, these people didn’t do as I suggested.
Anyway, my little observation made me realise that battling unemployment and unprofessionalism in Nigeria is more than just putting up newsletters on the internet and calling for skill acquisition training.
Based on my observation, I can tell that the following are reasons why those newsletters and training may not solve the problem of Nigeria.
- Unsuitable Newsletters and Blog Posts
When I noticed that my forwarded newsletters were not creating the sort of impact I expected, I decided to find out what the problem could be. The first thing I noticed was that these newsletters are not tailored for common Nigerian man. Yes, most online newsletters on career development are “foreign” to that ordinary man in the street because they come from foreign blogs and magazines. Hence, their tips may not be easily achievable in Nigeria.
This is not to say that their tips are useless, because I learn so much from them. In fact, to be honest, what I learn from these newsletters helps me in my career life. No Nigerian academic can give me freely for what these bloggers do. But for an ordinary man in the street to understand and imbibe what is in these newsletters may be too difficult. For this, almost all the newsletters I was circulating ended up unread because they didn’t capture the interest of my contacts.
- Undiversified Training
Then coming to training, I realised that most career conferences and workshops that take place in Nigeria are for tech, finance and sales professionals. Someone once asked me when there will be trainings for writers in Nigeria and I had no answer to give. I have since then been searching the internet for workshops and conferences for Nigerian writers and I’m yet to find one. This means that people that are not into tech, sales and finance may lose out.
- No Access to Internet
It may sound funny but it is true that many Nigerians do not have access to the internet. Some cannot afford internet-accessed phones while others cannot afford the high cost of internet in Nigeria. To be honest, someone I forwarded newsletters to bluntly told me that they consume much data. Now you can imagine what will happen if this person is asked to subscribe to a free webinar.
- Chasing Shadows
I call this “chasing shadows” because there are many Nigerians that buy expensive android phones and load them with data just to take selfies and videos with distorted facial features and then send them into the social media. I’m not against people having fun but when unemployed youths prefer to burn their data and time on trivial things, then we have to be worried. I once asked someone like this to find and download APA referencing style, 7th edition, from the internet and she told me she doesn’t have data. But then, she downloads videos from Netflix.
- Desire to Start Big
No one is against people that want to start big, but people kick against those that undermine small beginnings. A career coach said that one problem he always encounters with his clients is that they are too impatient to build up from scratch. This is also common among Nigerians; they don’t want to start from scratch. A lot of them want to hit it big. And so they have little interest in seminars and reading materials that will help them to build solid foundations for their careers.
Sometimes someone’s success story elicits doubts in the minds of the readers. Some of the writers send out their success stories or that of their clients in ways that make them seem unattainable. The consequence of this is that beginners will see the writers’ achievements as something from the moon.
A good example was when I forwarded a newsletter I got from Writers in Charge blog to one of my contacts, who showed interest in writing. The content of the newsletter was how the author, a Nigerian, managed to land a $3750 writing contract. The response my contact sent me on WhatsApp was both hilarious and heartbreaking. He said, “Nna, I haven’t even started writing and you are telling me about experts. People like me no get hope nah.”
This reply tells a lot about how people weigh the success stories of others – it motivates and discourages at the same time.
- Nigerians Don’t Read
The people that will understand this better are the writers. Nigerians don’t read. I know a lot of arguments may come up concerning this because of the number of national tabloids published daily and the increasing number of news blogs. But what do people actually read in them?
Nigerians focus more on “gossip” stories than on career related ones (unless they are gossip-tinted). If you think Nigerians are interested in political news, I’m here to tell you that they only read those pages in newspapers because they want to see what to say about the government. Their interests are to have stories to tell about what the government did and what it didn’t do. Most of them do not make good use of the information they gathered from those dailies.
However, there is a need to make some changes towards this disturbing phenomenon. And I can only suggest the following ways:
- Nigerian prospective bloggers and online magazines publishers can consider opening blogs and tabloids on career tips in different professions in Nigeria. Nigeria doesn’t have much of these. And the existing ones should be willing to give out free newsletters.
- Associations, organisations and individuals can consider organising workshops, trainings and conferences on different career development. Life shouldn’t be all about tech.
- Parents, guardians and teachers should teach children the importance of reading. They can do this by making them see stories hidden in-between words and helping them to derive joy in finding those stories.