Factors Affecting the Career Choice of Undergraduates in Nigerian Library and Information Science Schools

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Abstract

It has been observed that not many undergraduates of Nigerian universities apply to study library and information science (LIS) in the first instance but as a last resort. This situation is unwholesome for the future of LIS profession in Nigeria. The objective of this study, therefore, was to investigate the low preference for library and information science as a first-choice course of study by the undergraduates of Nigerian library schools. The survey research design was adopted, with the Career Choice Influence Questionnaire, as the main data collection instrument. In all, 1,228 students from eight Nigerian university library schools participated in the study. The study revealed that majority of the students did not make LIS course their first choice, but ended up in the library school as a last resort. However, 38.4% who chose the course were influenced mostly by previous library work experience. Available sources of information on the course include parents/relations (29.9%) and peers (9.20%). There are slightly more male LIS students (50.3%) than females (49.7%), indicating its equal popularity among both sexes. That 46.9% of them were in the 22-26 age bracket showed that the younger undergraduates constitute the majority. The study concludes that despite the evidence of improved popularity of the programme among the respondents, it remains largely unpopular among prospective undergraduates in Nigeria, when compared with such other courses as accountancy, medicine and law. The paper recommends that public awareness about the profession and the programme be intensified by all stakeholders if it must attract some of the best brains in the country who can meet the challenges of the profession in Nigeria.

Introduction

Generally, researchers have investigated issues relating to aspects of career choice by teenagers (Breakwell, et al., 1988; Dick and Rallis, 1991; Jawitz, et al. 2000; Woolnough, 1994). Southwick (2000), for example: observes the trend toward a decline in graduate enrolments in health-related fields, as well as science and engineering, having recorded enrolment decline from 1993-1997, after four decades of annual increases. A continuing decline of admissions in these areas may lead to a shortage of skilled health and science workers and this could ultimately hurt the society. Palmer (2005) also observes the reduction in the numbers and calibre of students seeking admissions into engineering education in Australia. Poor image of the engineering profession generally and the poor understanding of engineering in schools were identified as contributing reasons for this situation.

In Nigeria, many youths make wrong career choices due to ignorance, inexperience, peer pressure, advice from friends, parents and teachers, or as a result of the prestige attached to certain jobs without adequate vocational guidance and career counselling (Salami, 1999). Consequently, many of them are unsuited for their careers, as they usually find themselves in jobs that do not satisfy their value needs. When this occurs, they constitute nuisance to themselves and their employers. They are usually unable to contribute meaningfully to the society, and they ultimately become liability to the nation.

A survey of the career choice of MLS students at both the Ibadan and Zaria library schools by Bello (1991) focussed on the 1989-91 sets, with an enrolment capacity of 115 students from both library schools. Some of its outcomes are that median age bracket of the students falls within the age range 26-30 years, and are predominantly males, are already having work experiences; majority of whom have first-degree background in Arts, Education and Social Sciences. Similarly, Alemna (1991), in a survey of the careers and characteristics of past post-graduate diploma students of the Department of Library and Archival Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, covering 1981/82 to 1987/88, examined such variables as sex, choice of career, pre-career jobs, job mobility, job satisfaction, and the relevance of the course contents to their present employment. …