OCCUPATIONAL PREFERENCE OF VOCATIONAL TECHNICAL TEACHER EDUCATION STUDENTS IN SOUTH-SOUTH, NIGERIA
Amid increasing students’ enrollment in Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) vocational technical education (VTE) programmes in colleges of education (COEs), there is shortage of vocational technical teachers in basic education schools across Nigeria. Understanding the occupational preference of students, their career destination, and reasons for the preference could assist in addressing the shortage of vocational teachers, including how to support students’ transition from school to work. The study aimed at investigating occupational preference of students, reveal reasons, which shape their preference and differences in preference in relation to their specialization. The participants were final year (N=499) vocational technical teacher education students in South-South, Nigeria. The sample size was 222 students. The research data was collected using researchers’ constructed questionnaire. This instrument had a reliability index of 0.85. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The findings revealed that students’ preferences for teaching were shaped by non-monetary motivational factors such as job security, love for teaching, and working with people. Abundant job opportunities in teaching, which are easy to access and flexible working hours that provide opportunities to engage in other economic activities further explained students’ preference for teaching. Students’ preferences for teaching was not influenced by their areas of specialization. Regarding the vocational technical student teachers’ occupational preferences, the general findings when compared with literature show a shift from industry to teaching. The students’ preference for teaching suggests their willingness to go into teaching. Given employment opportunities, the students are ready to take-up teaching as an occupation of choice, and perhaps make it their life career and subsequently address the shortage of vocational technical teachers in basic education schools.