3 January 2013

Zambia: Tackling Youth Unemployment


THE new year is finally here and most of us have definitely made resolutions for 2013 which I believe can be brought to reality if we applied a bit of determination.

For youths, out of the many resolutions made, the one standing out without doubt is the need to find a job in a country where unemployment sounds like a hot issue.

I agree with you; this issue has widely been discussed and somebody might even suggest that it is a tired and boring subject... so why is this columnist bringing it up?

As long as this problem is yet but not impossible to be resolved, the topic of youth unemployment will keep echoing and lingering in our minds.

If the Government of the Republic of Zambia were one big person, the issue of unemployment is one big thorn in the flesh that has proved to be a challenge in plucking out and a concern that is causing sleepless nights to this big person called Government.

From the day we got our independence from our ostensible colonial masters, and started to run our own show, different governments have come and gone without leaving a permanent solution to unemployment, especially when it came to youth unemployment.

Resolving this issue in the past governments has been slower than traffic movement on Cairo Road on a busy day during peak hours. Has anybody bothered to ask why?

Zambia being blessed with so much land, so many natural resources, and a rich history, why is unemployment still a pain in the neck? With a total population of 13.8 million people, of which the youths make the massive share, why should people have nothing to do? Where are we getting it wrong?

In one of my articles, I mentioned that a rocky foundation usually has a disastrous ending. Sometimes I put the blame on what I was told the first day I went to school. My mother said I should go to school to learn so as to get a decent job in future. But is getting a decent job all there is to education? I believe most readers share this myth with me.

Because of this legendary advice, most people have forgotten to get educated so as to become employers because they have been tailor-made by their parents to be employees all their lives.

I know and hang around with people who have worked for over two decades but cannot leave employment even when they have been told they will get their full retirement packages if they did so because they simply do not know what else to do with their lives if they are not in employment.

My own mother could not take it lightly when she was part of the people that were put on early retirement by her former employers, having worked for over 20 years. I mean what else was there to do. Mum you accomplished it all, you did your part for that company and thank God you are resting at home.

You can never know your individual brilliance and potential if you work for others your entire life. My mother only came to learn that she is a good commercial florist after being asked to retire. Today she makes good money out of her flowers and the good thing is that it is all her money.

People should try by all means not to work for others to their grave. It does not help in developing yourself and the people around you because your employers only pay you so much to keep you waiting for the next salary and by the time you realise it, you would have worked for years without having anything to show for it.

I am sorry I digressed a bit but coming back to our topic, youth unemployment can only be stopped if youths themselves became conscious of the fact that goal number one after school of any level should be to become an employer even before we think of finding a job.

Think of an idea that would create a big empire, an organisation and a powerful entity that would employ others.

You see, we should have been taught that plan A was to finish school and create companies and plan B was finding a job if all failed. We have instead been 'brainwashed' with the thought that plan A is actually plan B. This to me is like climbing a tree from its leaves.

Youth unemployment can only be tackled with creation of new companies and new business opportunities. Our current existing companies cannot be expanded for more employees when there is low or no demand for new products on the market.

Youths should see themselves as employment creators by starting projects that will reduce the importing of foreign products by our employers because most of this stuff can be made locally by locally created industries since we have most of raw materials locally.

So this aspect requires a bit of innovativeness coupled with creativity for it to work and I know the youths have so much potential so it is achievable.

If we manufactured local goods, we would employ local people so as to reduce youth unemployment in our country.

If you are a youth and you have a project that you think can create employment for other youths, let's feature it on this column and see if somebody can fund it.

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