Have you ever witnessed the debate between university and polytechnic students as per which is better and that they should have equal pay and access to employment?
It is on record that some organizations do not employ Polytechnic graduates or University graduates with certain grades, and also, graduates from some universities.
I was addressing some Polytechnic graduates recently who expressed concern about how Poly graduates are perceived in consideration for employment and I informed them that the discrimination started a long time ago.
The discrimination started when the entry requirements to both Institutions are different, i.e. 4 Credits for Polytechnics and 5 credits for Universities
In addition, the discrimination between Federal and State owned Universities started when the Federal schools insist on a minimum JAMB cut-off mark of 200 while State Universities settled for 180 and some are pleading to go lower.
Even abroad, the scores required to secure admission into an ivy league university is higher than for a regular university. Do you therefore blame Organisations that prefer graduates from such schools to those from ordinary schools?
My point is that discrimination is first initiated when you lower the entry requirements, regarded in this case as Input. It is imperative therefore not to focus on the outcome which is tagged discrimination but understand the root cause.
Many organization don’t have the luxury of time to go through a long list of application and hence devise means to whittle down the application list to a more manageable size, essentially to reduce the time spent in recruitment. Where there are limited space for few, organizations are at liberty to deplore measure to get the best applicant. We have too many applications relative to opportunities or positions.
We were at Organisation X for a recruitment exercise. A Staff member came out and said Applicants that meet the following criteria may leave the recruitment venue:
- If you did not go to a University
- If you did not attend a Federal University
- If You did not attend a 1stGeneration University or Foreign University
- If you got less than a 2ndClass Upper degree.
He then told the remaining candidates that they resorted to that approach so they can manage the number of applicants. He agreed that they could have eliminated the best candidate but they do not have the luxury of time to interact with everyone who came.
The justification for this is still subject to debate. Note that Many Countries legislations frown at any type of discrimination. I also do not support it at all. I believe in the equal opportunity employer mantra.
Another input factor for discrimination is related to the Lecturer/Student ratio in Academic institutions. It is believed that the lower the ratio, the more contact lecturers have with their students and the better the quality of Education. The Lecturer to Student ratio is a major indicator used by many organizations that assess Universities for Quality Education.
A friend once told me that his graduating set was 141, from a Federal University, while a particular State University had over 400 Graduands for the same course. An Ivy League School in US had just 21 people in the graduating class of the same course.
If you are a product of a non prestigious Institution or a lowly rated programme please don’t despair.
Yes you may not get as many invites for career opportunities but what is important is to make the few opportunities you get count.
For Instance if you have an HND do not focus on the few organisations that do not employ Polytechnic graduates. If you have a 2nd class lower do not focus on organisations that insist on 2nd Class Upper minimum.
Focus on the alternatives. You can do a post graduate diploma, top up degree programme, Masters degree or appropriate Professional qualifications. You can also get trainings around skills that are critical in your industry or sector of interest.
Note that we all face one type of discrimination or the other in our careers. Don’t enter into a pity party. Avoid conversations that will always make you inferior because your profile matches whatever discriminatory measures that are out there. No one can make you inferior without your consent, don’t give consent to dissenting opinion about who you are or what you have labored to earn. Explore the alternatives by being the best in what you do. One of the undisputable key antidote to discrimination is excellence.
Nature, Culture, Exposure, nurture and individual choices and attitude all help to build or erode Excellence.
by Adeosun Oluyemi Theophilus