By Badru Walusansa, a Common Wealth Correspondent
In the world of employment, there are many young professionals in various fields who aspire to positively impact society. The surging youth unemployment notwithstanding, most organizations boast of youthful staff. This is attributed to among other things, the creativity, shrewdness, and tenacity young people embody. However, many young professionals risk boosting their careers due to limited mentorship programmes especially at places of work.
Mentorship is an indispensable tool for preparing, guiding and motivating young professionals during the course of their career development. It instills a sense of confidence among young staff and its spillover is reflected in terms of responsibility, productivity and ethical behavioral exhibited by those that have had the opportunity to undergo through it. Conversely, young professionals who have had no chance to be mentored are likely to have less focus and direction in their career trajectory.
It’s no surprise that today’s young professionals value money more than skills and knowledge which would be accumulated overtime through mentorship. As a result, they end up being embroiled in acts of misconduct and corruption in the positions they hold. The Uganda Youth Survey Report (2016) revealed that 55% of youth admire those who make money through hook or crook, (including hustling) whereas 33% believe corruption is profitable.
Recently the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Diana Atwine decried the lack of close interaction between senior medical doctors and medical interns at Mulago Hospital. This in itself creates a knowledge and skills gap between senior experienced personnel and young professionals. Perhaps that’s why young professionals grapple with acquiring experience which would have been transmitted through mentorship.
Additionally, senior experienced personnel should embrace passing on skills and knowledge to the young turks. This can be achieved through mentoring them either at their places of work or outside the working realm. It should also be noted that mentorship presents mutual benefits to both the mentor and mentee. For instance, the mentor often has sufficient knowledge and skills to share with the mentee, however, on the other hand the mentee is also in position to share a new perspective with the mentor.
It is also important to understand that mentorship doesn’t exist in isolation because it starts at the family level. Our parents or guardians should actually be the greatest role models or mentors that we can ever have. Therefore, our parents or guardians have the primary obligation to shape us, as responsible persons before we move on to other settings like schools and work places. The same home that teaches a child to pray can still teach him or her certain intrinsic values such as honesty, trust and humility which are all vital virtues in our professions.
As a civilized society we must religiously encourage mentorship and attach value on it as a practice. For example, senior experienced personnel should even include it on their resumes as an achievement besides the other common achievements like academics and work experience. Interview panels should be allowed to ask a candidate how many mentees they have mentored in their professions as lawyers, statisticians, doctors, teachers and business entrepreneurs among others. Candidates must as well mention the kind of knowledge and skills passed on to such mentees and before we know it, we shall be contributing to knowledge conservation and sustainability to the generations to come.
Government institutions, Companies and other organizations must hugely invest in mentorship programmes for young staff as a way of enabling them to improve on their knowledge as well as that of the organization. Furthermore, mentorship helps young professionals to deal with the challenges that they often encounter at work or personal level. Therefore, deliberate efforts should be made to ensure that young professionals are placed under the watch of senior staff in order to enhance career and personal development.
Even at the national level, we must prepare young people for leadership and this can only be feasible through mentorship.