When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in his hey days as the president of the country told a visiting delegation of Nigerians in the diaspora that, “It is mis-education for anyone to offer Mass Communication as a course of study in the university”, many communication undergraduates and graduates thought, as implied in their acerbic replies, particularly through diverse social media platforms, that his comment was a calculated attempt to disparage Mass Communication as a course of study and as a profession.
As if what he said was not enough, he went further to say that "some people came to me and they said they have two Masters degrees and yet cannot find a job. Then I asked them ‘What did you read’, and they replied Mass Communication, the other one is Sociology. Then I told them, you are uneducated.
You have now to go and be re-educated, to create value for your skill.” I must confess at this juncture that at the time the comment, which was widely seen as a smear campaign by an engineer and condemned by many mass communicators and journalists in the country was made, that I was not offended by the comment, as I was very sure that I never in the least chose a wrong career path. Be that as it may, the stark reality of what the former president said some years ago is today unarguably glaring for thousands of mass communication graduates to see.
As it seems, many people are ignorant of the fact that Mass Communication graduates have the career choice of venturing into advertising, broadcast journalism, blogging, digital media and electronic media production. But the fact is that they are never taught in the school on how they can veer into the foregoing allied profession. Worse still, those that can be said to be fast learners and certified in other professions cannot be said to have added impetus to their employability. There is no denying the fact that a working knowledge of, say, Personal Secretaryship or Sales/Marketing is enough to put a Mass communication graduate on a good pedestal to create value with his communication skill. But alas!
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Many of them are not given the opportunities to apply their transferable skills into other professions they find themselves. In the same nexus, most employers see them as not being confidential enough to be trusted with sensitive documents, correspondences or information. The reason for this virtue cannot be far-fetched as a Mass Communicator is suspiciously seen by many as an “Amebo”. But this impression is erroneous as mass communicators are equally trained and ethically bound like secretaries not to abuse privilege information. It is for this reason that media law and ethics is made a compulsory course in all mass communication schools.
Mass Communicators do not mishandle information as many people, particularly executives in the corporate world are wont to believe. Also, despite the fact that the knowledge which a Mass Communication graduate is imbued with have equipped him with the skills of analyzing price, demand and competition as well as presenting ideas and promotional strategies, he is not favorably considered for Sales/Marketing Executive jobs. At this juncture, it is not out of place for anyone to ask “Why can’t Mass Communication graduates not look for jobs in either the print or the broadcast industry?” It is also not out of place for anyone to ask “Why can’t Mass Communication graduates not search for jobs in the marketing communication sub –sector?” The fact is that the windows of opportunities are seemingly shut against Mass Communicators that are rookies.
In the mainstream media and allied professions like public relations and advertising, t is not false to say that most practitioners are wont to arrogate professional knowledge to themselves as if green horns would never understand what they do. The same still applies in the print and broadcast sub-sector so much so that they are faced with the same old hands recycling their services from one media organization to the other. With this ugly development, the opportunities of new entries who would have brought innovations and creativities into the media sector are limited. In the same vein, staffing in public relations departments or units in most corporate organizations are exclusively reserved for those that are somewhat seen to have endless and door-opening contacts in the media. With this, most employers believe that engaging experienced public relations practitioners will put their press releases on a smooth sailing pedestal. As ignorant as most of them are, a press release gets a smooth sailing treatment only when it is well written with credible content and dispatch through due process.
Despite the fact that effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills are valuable in the workplace, and that some companies spend a lot of money to train their employees on how to effectively communicate, a company top executive who this writer once worked with as a Personal Assistant once chide him in pidgin English “Mr. Isaac, nor blow grammar too much, you think say na grammar I take open this company?” This is one of the problems Mass Communication graduates are facing in the corporate world. Even some Chief Executive Officers see communication as an inconsequential and this always make them to pay less attention to advertising and public relations budgets. At this juncture, it is not an exaggeration to say that the foregoing viewpoints encapsulate the stark realities which Mass Communication graduates are facing in the labor market.
In my view, Mass Communication graduates, who are majorly youths, should be assisted by employers in the media sector through the creation of jobs without unnecessarily mounting brickwall against them. They should be employed, trained and given the opportunity to practice. The reason for this cannot be far-fetched as work experience is never acquired as an undergraduate. To me, some modicum of moral and social considerations should be literarily injected into some aspects of employment policies and decisions to catch up with the exigencies of social responsibilities. On the other hand, employers in non media organizations should stop being biased and suspicious of Mass Communication graduates that are willing to work with them as Secretaries, Marketers and corporate communicators.
Finally, Mass Communication outlines that are currently been used across polytechnics, monotechnics and universities in the country should be modified in such a way that mass comm. graduates are imbued with entrepreneurial skills, particularly in the area of book publishing, blogging and marketing communication. As it is now, it is like much emphasis is laid on producing Mass Communication graduates that can write and speak rather than teaching them how to create wealth and job opportunities and in turn feed themselves and their dependents through creativity and innovation.
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