GENDER AND FAMILY BACKGROUND AS DETERMINANTS OF CHOICE OF VOCATIONS AMONG APPRENTICES IN SELECTED VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTRES
Background to the study
The relevance of profession to an individual or his success in it is not determined by the preponderance of same sexed people with the individual in that profession. Gender stereotyping is a conformist behaviour which hardly makes for a divergent expression of one personal quality or the uniqueness of an individual. This validates the reasoning that no profession should be held as conventional for any human gender.
Gender according to the United Nations definition as adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women (1996) in Beijing China is ‘Man and Woman’. But to Bassow (1991), gender is seen as a psychological term describing behaviours and attributes expected of individuals on the basis of being born either male or female. It is on this note that Azikiwe, (1993) illuminates that gender differences are obvious from birth and children are socialized very early into appropriate sex-typed occupation. This assertion tries to identify gender as one of the significant determinants of choice of vocations among people. Emeyonu (1994) articulates this point in his words stating that girls were not supposed to go into Engineering, Law, or Medicine; but should go into professions like teaching and nursing. He went further to assert that:
“A female student applying to study mechanical engineering is look down upon as an oddity and an exception to the rule and perhaps should have her head examined. Girls were supposed to do Arts, Education and Home Economics. Unfortunately, most young Nigerian girls aspiring for higher studies have come to believe this myth and have approached their choice of careers with difference and timidity” (p 125)
Besides, culture and tradition working through the family setting have assigned occupations to males and females in the society; thus each sex is straight-jacketed in areas considered exclusive for it according to family traditional belief or background. In the Nigeria pre-colonial traditional setting before the advent of Western Education, Traditional Education was highly characterized by domestication of girls and trade learning for boys; hence, education of children was polarized between sexes according to their future roles in the society. Fafunwa (1974) who captured this trend in his work notes that boys received rigorous training on the farm under the instruction of their father and latter sent to learn one trade or the other under the apprenticeship system; while girls underwent training at home in child care, food preparation and so on under strict supervision of their mothers. Today, Western Education is seen to have taken over from Traditional Education, yet, may be as carry over effects of the Traditional Education impartation, a strict dichotomy still exists in the kind of vocations pursued by boys and girls in a family. The family background of a person/apprentice has always been a determining factor in the person’s choice of vocation. Parents at all times want to channel the future of their children and as such go as far as deciding on their children’s choice of careers and vocations without the slightest consideration of whether their children had any flare in the vocations chosen for them.
Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) is an integral part of the general education process. (UNESCO 2001) this socio-economic factor has been subject of various definitions depending on the needs of the nations at that point in time, or the perception of the interested individual. However, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has advanced a definition which may be considered as universal and adaptable to the various level of the socioeconomic development of the nations. This definition attempts to liberalize TVE and compensate for the apathy that is usually demonstrated towards its development at some early stages until the needs inevitably arouse. (Kantor, 1986, UNESCO & ILO 2002, FRN 2004) The UNESCO definition, which has also been adopted by Nigeria stated thus:
“Technical and Vocational Education is used as a comprehensive term referring to those aspects of educational processes involving in addition to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences and acquisition of practical skills, attitudes understanding and knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of economic and social life ” (UNESCO & ILO 2002, FRN 2004).
The inherent characteristics of TVE that made it amenable to entrepreneurship included it being means of preparing for occupational fields and for effective participation in the world of work; an aspect of lifelong learning and a preparation for responsible citizenship; an instrument for producing environmentally sound sustainable development; and a method of facilitating poverty alleviation (UNESCO/ILO 2002 FRN 2004).
According to Daniel and Hut tin (2002), quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), help develop the individual’s knowledge of science and technology in a broad occupational area requiring technical and professional competencies and specific occupational skills. This virtue’s essential for the development of entrepreneurship. TVE represents the productive aspect of the educational process in of that it is directly linked with the world of work, TVE is an investment not a cost, with significant returns, including the well being of workers; enhanced productivity and internal competitiveness (UNESCO 2000) The accumulation of these benefits constitutes a profit to the investment and as such compensation for the risk-taking tendencies of an entrepreneur.
The current emphasis on vocational education started in the primary Education section in 1976 with the implementation of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme, which the Federal government of Nigeria was the sole financier. Secondary schools embraced the vocational/technical emphasis in 1982/83 school year when the first batch of the UPE was ready for secondary education. Vocational/technical education was made so popular that children from well-to-do families sought and gained admission in vocational/technical schools, which before then was seen to be demeaning for children from higher socio-economic backgrounds in Nigeria. That was when the 6-3-3-4 education structure started.
Nigeria is a developing nation characterized by a slow rate of industrial growth, which does not match her population growth rate. Since the mid 1970s emphasis has been placed on vocational education as a strategy for combating unemployment of youths. Vocational education was envisaged as the type that school leavers could employ themselves and others if they become entrepreneurs. This prospect is made for vocational school leavers irrespective of sex.
Besides, Nigeria as a developing nation is characterized by a slow industrial growth rate which lays emphasis on right choices of vocations towards entrepreneurial skill development as a strategy for combating unemployment of youths. Entrepreneurial vocations are therefore envisaged as the type of courses needed by school leavers to be self-employed and employers of others as they become entrepreneurs. Besides, we are in globalization era which widens opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship; and if youths are highly proficient in the requisite skills, they can become employers or gain employment not only in their areas of specialization in the country but even outside the national borders.
Statement of Problem
This study attempts to examine gender and family background as determinants of choice of vocations among apprentices in vocational centres in Lagos. This is predicated on the findings of Akpan (2006); Etuk (2002) and Chimuaza & Obanaya (1989) which reveal that gender and family related factors are significant determinants of choice of careers among youths.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to determine the extent to which the choice of vocations among apprentices in vocational centres in Lagos is influenced by gender and family background. Based on the above main objective, this study would examine the extent to which choice of vocations among apprentices is influenced by the following:
- Gender of the apprentice,
- Educational background of the family,
- Financial status of the family,
- Religious background of the family, and
- Cultural background of the family.
The following questions are raised to guide the study in attaining the above objectives.
(i) Is gender a determinant of choice of vocation among apprentices?
(ii) Does educational background of the family determine the choice of vocation among apprentices?
(iii) Is financial status of the family a determinant of choice of vocation among apprentices?
(iv) Does the family religious belief affect the choice of vocations among apprentices?
(v) Is cultural background of the family a determinant of choice of vocations among apprentices?
The following hypotheses were posited for the study.
- Choice of vocation among apprentices is not significantly determined by their gender.
- Choice of vocation among apprentices is not significantly determined by the educational background of their family.
- Choice of vocation among apprentices is not significantly determined by the financial status of their family.
- Choice of vocation among apprentices is not significantly determined by the religious belief of their family.
- Choice of vocation among apprentices is not significantly determined by the cultural background of their family.
Significance of the Study
This study is a contribution to knowledge for its painstaking elaborate effort to articulate the extent to which choice of vocations among apprentices in Lagos is susceptible to their gender differentials and family related factors.
The study will also serve the purpose of a reference document in the department of Adult Education, University of Lagos for researchers and students carrying out research on the same or similar topic.
The findings of this study will be useful to gender analysts as well as to counsellor trainers and psychologists. It will also be useful to instructors at the vocational centres as well as to parents and students.
Scope of the Study
This study is limited to examine the extent to which choice of vocations among apprentices in Lagos is determined by gender and family related factors. The study covered only the vocational centres in the Akoka area of Lagos State; but was limited to involve only Federal College of Education (Tech), Akoka, Lagos. Besides, out of the entire apprentices of the above centre, only hundred and twenty (120) of them were involved in the study.
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Chimuaza, J & Obanya, P. (1989). Influence of exposure made, school type and sex on the learner on attitude toward agricultural science Nigerian Journal of Technical Education, b, 74-81
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