Friday, August 11, 2006

Engineering, Accounting, Medicine

Some figures were released a few days ago showing the disparity between the job choices of students from different races. I looked at the black students and instantly recognised the choices. The BBC is the top choice for most races, but I don't understand why it's also top choice for black people. I reckon many people think it'll be "nice" to work for the BBC, but not on the same level as people "waiting for that Shell job". Which is probably why the BBC is top of the list.

No doubt that Shell is there because of oil obsessed Nigerians. If worshiping Shell wasn't so blatantly blasphemous, many a Nigerian would be burning incense at the foot oil rigs in the Delta. Shell satisfies the wannabe engineers, since they can drill (destroy) the land, and accountants for fiscal responsibility (cookbooking). The parents jump for joy.

I haven't the foggiest idea where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office come in. I can only assume it is skewed by Caribbean blacks. And perhaps also the Red Cross. It has never been the desire of Nigerians to work for the state, or to work for charity. Yes I know there are many Nigerian charities in existence, and that's the point. They don't want to work for other people's charities such as Oxfam, Christian Aid etc, but to start their own charities. Egotism. And as far as the FCO is concerned, the days when Nigerians wanted to work for government are long gone. They want contracts with the government, they want commissioner positions, they want ministerial posts, but not to be a lowly civil servant. Nigerians, being the Americans of Africa, are insular, and generally don't speak foreign languages. I know I'll be slated for saying that, but tis true.

NHS needs no explanation. "My daughter is a medical doctor," and "my daughter is saw-jion." Nurses would also turn up in the NHS, which is over-represented when it comes to ethnic minorities.

Accenture, PWC, and JP Morgan all fall into the accountant category. I can never understand why people going into accounting. I have many accountant friends, bless their hearts, but I just don't geddit. The most boring girl I ever met was an accountant:

Me (in lothario mode): So what do you do?

Her (bored): I'm an accountant.

Me (making conversation): Really? That's interesting (trying hard to make sure my growing nose doesn't show, Pinocchio style). Why accounting? (like I care)

Her (still bored): I don't know. It's okay.

Me (getting infected by her boredom): You don't know why you like accounting? (genuinely astonished)

Her (ridiculously bored): I don't know. It's okay.

Me: Oh my goodness, is that X? I haven't seen him in such a long time, I'll go and say hi. Don't go anywhere, I'll be back. (Will I heck?)

I'm not the most irresistible on man in the planet (okay, I lie. I am), but if there's one thing I can do, it's talk. Note that I'm not saying that I'm good at making conversation, but for someone to be bored enough to make me not want to talk... After some enquiries about said girl, it turned out that she was just generally a boring person, and bored everyone. Yep, men gossip too. But that's accountants for you. The ones who didn't make it into sciences get shoved into the nothingness of otherness.

Microsoft fits into the IT/engineering mould of Nigerian graduates. BA and Virgin must have been recent additions. If you travel on those airlines all the time to go back home, why not work for them? You'll be the envy of all your friends. Lagos today, Dubai tomorrow, Buenos Aires another time. Look at the Luis Vuitton suitcase I brought from a mall in Tokyo. Might even bring home some exotic looking Spaniard named Emilio Corazon de la PiƱata Oruzco. Aspirational.

In all honesty, the immigrants are largely the same. Banking, engineering, medicine, accounting. Heaven forfend that a brown person works for the government. White people want to work for the BBC, FCO, MOD, Environment Agency, NHS, Civil Service, Cabinet Office, Teach First. Nearly all are public service organisations.

I have a couple of theories for this. One is simple, which is that the immigrants still don't feel any affinity to their host nation, and therefore no obligation to serve that community by working for the government. The second - and this relates more to Nigerians - is that Nigerians do not believe in government. The government has never done anything for them, so why would they work for it? It has never educated them, never given them water, never given them roads, never given them healthcare. So why would they work in the public sector when as far as they can see, it doesn't exist? It is also partly the reason that many Nigerians are politically conservative. Social conservatism helps, but the government has never done anything for them, so they have no reason to believe in government.


culturalmiscellany said...

They've missed one. I never met so many Nigerians as when I worked at Transport for London. Trust me if the collective knowledge of those Nigerians was put to use in Nigeria you'd have a very good public transport system (not excellent as it would be based on London's) very quickly. I found Nigerians in Finance, Signalling, Streetworks, TRaffic Control Centre etc.

? said...

"They've missed one. I never met so many Nigerians as when I worked at Transport for London. "

I am not defending my fellow Nigerians but why Nigeria? When did Nigeria(n) become a racial group?

The above statistics is based on grounds of race and colour. It neither employs Nationality (Nigerian) as a metric. Nor does it employ ethnic (pakistani, indian the case of Nigeria, we would have yoruba, hausa, ibo etc which are not even recognised...shame) or national origin. Nigeria(n)s (unlike being pakistani or indian etc) is not even a recognised ethnic origin. Nigerians may fall under black or black African or even black british.

Back to the post, it does not surprise me in the slightest.

Nkem said...

Nigerians are not a racial grouping. But at UK universities, Nigeria are the largest nationality among the black students. It kind of goes without saying.

? said...

"But at UK universities, Nigeria are the largest nationality among the black students. It kind of goes without saying."

You can imagine how much money Nigerians invest in the british economy via the educational sector.

Yet, some university Professors may ignorantly think we are better off on the london underground doing Signalling, Streetworks, or at the TRaffic Control Centre.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha! Nice post!
Yeah shell is our god!
Never got the hang of it....

Anonymous said...

"They don't want to work for other people's charities such as Oxfam, Christian Aid etc, but to start their own charities. Egotism."


i think you've assumed a little too much here and there are a number of things wrong with your generalization...but we won't go into them. insightful entry.

Monef said...

Loving this post...there are a few of us working diligently to subvert this view though, I intend to remain in govt. to the horror of most peeps I know. They can't fathom why one would study Chem Eng and then become a civil servant!

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see BBC tops, because 15 years ago, between employing the best qualified person for the job and dealing with unwarranted preconceived fears for other people's job security or status, they chose the latter - for a department that was getting commercialised.

I was fobbed off with the comment from the manager that I was seriously underselling myself - makes you wonder whose decision that should be if you want the job.

As for Shell, I have probably had the most offers from that company and the greatest pleasure of bring up the plight of Ogoni people as I reject those offers.

I think the FCO is more about white students and probably their aspiring to be in positions like that of Sir Humphrey in Yes, Minister.

As for charities, Lord Victor Adebowale is runs a charity he did not start up Turning Point as much as he is now an establishment figure.

There are exceptions to the generalised view.


While i was in school(the university) i never could understand the reason why every engineering student wanted to work in either shell, chevron or schlumberger. A while later i understood their reason. These companies are among the highest paying in the country. In a country like ours i dont really blame them. Even though i who used to go like whats the big deal about this shell sef wouldnt mind a job there right now.
When a graduate joins the civil service he/she is placed on level 8 or so with a salary that is nothing to write home about. Then he has to start the task of getting promoted(which i might add doesnt happen every year), dealing with all sorts of rubbish all in the name of seniority and what not. Believe me the civil service in Nigeria is not something any right thinking young person would want to aspire to.

Errata said...

Civil service in ANY country is not something a young person should aspire to!! -Unless of course they are looking forward to spending the next 20 years of their life within those confines..- I took on such a position without salary for intern purposes and it summarily landed me in the biggest financial disaster of my life;
HOWEVER, the payoff came in the form of prestige attached with that position which subsequently served as a launching pad into heights I hadn't quite imagined attainable this early in my career, within the private sector.

Ultimately, everyone just wants to afford the spoils they deem necessary to maintain a happy family or life and those professions typically provide for that, as opposed to the arts/social sciences!

Chxta said...

I got lost somewhere...

Olawunmi said...

profound man.

Anonymous said...

My comment's a bit late, but I've been busy.

Do I smell a sour grape or two?

True, there are too many people on degree courses who have no business being on them. It suits the British/ US systems to take them on (a ride). And the graduates get the prestige from their chosen title, be it "Doctor" or the more infamous "Engineer"....or was that "Water Engineer"....I beg your pardon.

Sure my career is (perceived to be)all about the benjies, but its what I'm good at, and it pays the bills.

Sure there're still loads of people walking around with 3rd class degrees in Engineering from Top 20 universities turning up their unemployed noses at everyone else.

But that's just life.

I take it the accountant at the party wasn't giving it up huh?

Nkem said...

Miss 2 cents... It isn't sour grapes anyway. I refer to myself as a "failed engineer", having studied it until I saw the light, but I'm all the better for it. As for the girl not giving it up, it's a bit difficult for her to give it up before we even talk. We'd need to talk first, then she can give it up. If at all that's what I wanted...

A disillusioned Naija girl said...

Oh lawd, you cracked me up. You echoed sentiments I just put down on Everchange's blog, down to the names of the organisations in question.

What's the minimum wage in Naija sha? As much as I like the idea of working for the government, I sincerely doubt that starting at low level after my parents've spent tens of thousands of pounds sending me to uni here is worth my time, especially as every f*cker that's older than me (and there will be far too many to count) will be eager to put me in my place, make themselves feel like bosses.

Another point: we were none of us raised to even so much as consider the idea of voluntary service. Only those fortunate enough to school outside the country (and I mean pre-university) have had the privilege of knowing what that feels like.

The idea of charities in Nigeria is literally cracking me up. Where would the money go? Bunch of money grabbing greedy sods, from the bottom all the way up?! Who would contribute? Would people go round with little buckets 'collecting' for Mrs Oluwagbowo's charity for housegirls? How would that work? I like the idea of it all, but there's a bunch of immovable obstacles that are introduced, purely because of our culture, and because of the general greedy, wide-eyed and dishonest attitude so widely prevalent in Nigerians.

I'm no longer laughing - it truly is sad.