By CPA Samwel Baraka Ochieng
Why Should We Care?
Merriam-Webster defines “career” as a profession for which one trains and performs over a long period of time. A fulfilling and right career is one that both satisfies and challenges an individual to advance. I was at a private school’s grade 2 investiture ceremony when I met a stunning seven-year-old, whom I bent a knee to and asked about her favourite profession and what she yearned to do when she grew up. When I was her age, I had formed infantile career fantasies, and whenever I was asked what profession excited me the most, being an accountant, doctor, lawyer, engineer, or pilot ranked high. Like my peers, I associated such professions with prestige and, of course, more money. “I want to be an accountant!” mumbled the little lassie. I nodded, got up, and walked away. After a few steps, I was immersed in deep, strangely disturbing thoughts about the kinds of careers we are prone to pursuing.
The much-touted new education system, Competency Based Curriculum, which I assumed the girl was pursuing, did not appear to have instilled new career perspectives in the learners; evidently, they prefer job seeking to job creation and innovation. Despite displaying the sector’s mission statement, which is geared towards the provision, promotion, and coordination of quality education, training, and research; and enhancement of the integration of science, technology, and innovation into our national production systems for sustainable development, the Ministry of Education continues to face a number of challenges that impede the achievement of its objectives. As a result, the supply of graduates continues to outnumber the available opportunities in Kenya. In the first quarter of 2021, for instance, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Quarterly Labour Force survey reported labour underutilization, the unmet need for employment among the qualifying citizens, at 12.30%, and the number of time-related underemployed people at 1,082,391.
Furthermore, the long-term unemployment rate in the country was highest among those aged 20 to 24 years, at 13.50%, while the age groups 20-29 continued to have the highest proportion of unemployed people in the country, at 25.4%. The statistics show that there is a greater need for job creators and innovators than job seekers. This, however, is not the case, and the Education Sector Report on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (2022/23-2024/25) acknowledges challenges that may result in the economy producing more job seekers than job creators. The first is insufficient financial resource allocation, which has an impact on areas such as training provision and access, learning facilities and equipment, and infrastructure development. Second, early pregnancies and early marriages among female students, owing to inequalities in access to education in some communities, which still follow ancient rituals and traditions that impart education and training along gender lines. The challenges, among other factors, have pushed many people to pursue the wrong careers, and this should concern all of us because it affects our personal and group productivity.
Before you hit the quit button and jump on to your next job adventure, consider the following: Is it possible to once again make a life out of the career? Is the pressure to quit greater than the career you are about to give up on? And is it the right time to quit? Et cetera. Thomas Edison advised that the best way to succeed is to give it one more try; he also stated that giving up is our greatest weakness.
In order to assess and improve service delivery, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) conducted a consumer and employee satisfaction survey in 2017. Notably, the study’s overall index for both staff and customer satisfaction was 71.75%, which was just a little higher than the previous 70.15% reported in 2013. However, in reporting on teacher motivation, a low of 31% was reported, possibly from the group of teachers whose career choices were not right! From the study, we can infer that some people are in their current careers just to pay bills, but are dissatisfied and clearly not proud of their profession. As a result, they lack professional pride and dignity, and are unable to pursue career developments and realise career growth.
Frederick Irving Herzberg, a renowned American behavioural scientist and Professor of Management, conducted a study that involved a thorough examination of the experiences and feelings of a group of professional accountants and engineers from nine different companies in an effort to better understand employees, and he froze his conclusions in the famous Herzberg motivator-hygiene theory. In the theory, he recognises and considers two factors: maintenance and motivational factors. He postulates that hygiene factors are job factors that are required for the existence of motivation at work but do not satisfy in the long run; however, their absence dissatisfies workers.
The factors listed by the professor include, among others, the availability of competitive compensation packages, i.e., good pay, a healthy physical working environment, job security, and health care plans. Irving admitted that maintenance factors cannot be considered motivators. So, he deduced motivational factors from an analysis of job characteristics capable of inspiring workers to deliver effectively, noting, among other things, that employees need to be praised and recognised for their achievements; the minimization of control while maintaining accountability in the workplace; and the institutionalisation of a well-defined employee career pathway.
The implementation of the theory by any organisation significantly impacts their employees’ careers since a dissatisfied worker can’t meet targets promptly and competitively and can’t remain in the same job for long. This begs the question of when and how people get to lose their career interests, owing to the fact that when organisations advertise vacancies, potential candidates cast in piles of intriguing applications with excerpts such as “expressing interest in the advertised position,” “excited to apply for consideration,” “able to multitask and deliver under pressure,” “considering my background training and experience,” and “the role is very appealing to me,” et cetera. Shortlisted candidates, consequently, turn to recruiters during interviews to further persuade them and demonstrate their enthusiasm skilfully enough to secure the jobs.
Unfortunately, as the months pass, something happens: job dissatisfaction creeps in and begins to emaciate passion, thus isolating eking out a living as the only sliver linking an individual to a career and preventing such individuals from making a life out of their careers, explaining the domino effect that stifles growth and productivity. It’s okay to not like the job you do, especially if it interferes with your ability to maintain a healthy work- life balance. However, before you hit the quit button and jump on to your next job adventure, consider the following: Is it possible to once again make a life out of the career? Is the pressure to quit greater than the career you are about to give up on? And is it the right time to quit? Et cetera. Thomas Edison advised that the best way to succeed is to give it one more try; he also stated that giving up is our greatest weakness. Yes! One more day, an additional minute of restraint, a look before a leap, or an attitude change might completely rework your career. Organizations may not be eager or financially viable to provide all of the hygiene and motivator factors; however, to avoid the adage’s trap—the grass is always greener on the other side of the bank—consider your options before embarking on the next career.
Steve Jobs, the co- founder of Apple Computer, Inc., had only spent six months in college before he realised that formal education was not his thing. As a result, Steve decided not to deplete his parents’ resources in an otiose venture, so he quit his college studies. Not all of us are as adequately gifted at determining what works for us or not and are capable of responding as swiftly as Steve Jobs.
Admittedly, training and career development are extremely costly, and people make enormous resource sacrifices in order to climb a career ladder. Don’t succumb to peer pressure just yet—you may have received the same training and perform similar roles but seem less comfortable. Purpose, assert, and roll up your sleeves to achieve the desired career goal. You know, as do I, that many degree-wielding graduates perform menial jobs, regrettably outside their areas of training and specialization, forcing them into careers they never desired or imagined. Steve Jobs, the co- founder of Apple Computer, Inc., had only spent six months in college before he realised that formal education was
not his thing. As a result, Steve decided not to deplete his parents’ resources in an otiose venture, so he quit his college studies. Not all of us are as adequately gifted at determining what works for us or not and are capable of responding as swiftly as Steve Jobs.
In conclusion, to make the right career choice and ensure people only pursue careers they like and consequently do what they enjoy, we need to quickly and early enough identify the profession that enthuses the most and sacrificially invest resources to nurture such fizzers, even as we seek career guidance from the successful sycamores of our time.
CPA Samwel Baraka Ochieng is a member of ICPAK.
Email: [email protected]