I was listening to a discussion the other day, which spiraled into a debate as participants could not agree to disagree from a professional stand-point.
The conversation was on whether society would be best served, if enterprises employed young professionals who are skilled, trained/educated and bear the technical know-how of a certain profession.
The nexus of the debate was, if hiring skilled professionals from a specific field was an ideal approach to hiring graduates, as opposed to hiring from any field and letting them learn on the job as long as they boast of having a few noticeable attributes that may be an added advantage to the job without having to toil for three to four years pursuing a course in that field.
Well, during the debate my voice was swallowed by the noise of participants shouting across the room and I couldn’t share my sentiments farther than to my closest neighbor.
This is because a lot of us have greatly benefited from this sort of arrangement and we are more than grateful to our first employers for hiring us, despite the fact that we attained a degree in a field that was on the opposite side of the barricade and somehow we made it through!
This is a habit specifically in consultancies, media enterprises, agencies and non-governmental organizations. We have come to a place where we undervalue the importance of academics and its relevance to our careers, so a number of youth are having a challenge translating their knowledge to establish enterprises at such a vibrant age.
As a young professional, your mentors may be someone who studied one thing and started off in a totally different field and they found their path towards a stable career along the way. So now we find that we would greatly defend the idea that a degree is just a paper and our young people are versatile enough.
But truly, I believe you would not go back to your doctor if he told you that he actually studied Business Accounting, though he/she is now practicing medicine because it is his/ her passion and that is where the opportunity revealed itself when he/she needed a job.
That was funny? No? So you see, we are now encouraging a pattern of shortcuts among our youth so that young people study to just complete a degree which will enable them to jump to the next level of getting any job.
We are not looking to bring up a knowledge based society that appreciates the value of education to sharpen in-built talent. We are not looking to encourage our youth to uphold the values, ethos and principles of a specific profession so they can safeguard them.
Fast-track Africa in the future, we need to uphold global best practices in all fields, whether service or industrial.
We need to export our workforce as well, at an advanced level of expatriates in the same way the western world does. This mentality of learning on the job should therefore stop as it is taking us back instead of pushing us forward.
The same applies to the ownership and leadership of many organisations in the region. Wouldn’t it guarantee more efficiency and excellence if the management at the pyramid level in any organization has the wherewithal to recruit the best talent, and also a deep understanding of the profession in which they lead?
In my opinion, it is arguably not the best decision to move from being a CEO of a health institution to a leader of an enterprise in the education sector, just because you have a good track record from your previous position.
Ideally a manager should be able to revere to the values of a certain field and understand the market dynamics of that profession and if you ask me, you can never miss to find a professional, well trained, skilled and educated to a credible level in that same profession.
It is disheartening as a professional to work under a boss who is not trained in that field but is only in that position because he/she has great managerial skills of directing, controlling, planning and supervising. This kind of boss tends to make unrealistic expectations, targets and heavy budget cut downs. It is better to learn under a manager who has been in your shoes as a professional in that field as he/she is more sensitive, considering all professional hazards at hand.