Why youth unemployment?

Why youth unemployment

Why youth unemployment?

What ignited your passion for eradicating unemployment among South African youth?

Let’s be clear from the first go: no one should ever be “unemployed” unless it is by choice. It’s actually inhuman I believe.  And when I am talking about unemployed, I am of course referring to the broad concept of actively being on the lookout for ways to use one’s skills, hands and brains to make a living but unable to do so. To be unemployed implies that there is absolutely no one out there at that point in time that needs you or your set of skills. Now, that sounds very depressing, doesn’t it ? The moment you are unemployed, it creates the impression that no one wants or needs you; Put differently, no one needs what you have. And I think such a problem should concern everybody. 

There are of course multiple consequences to unemployment but I want to take the time to zoom in  on  only these few: 

Mental poverty: 

Unlike what some people might think, mental poverty has nothing to do with the lack of intellectual and “ qualifiable ”  knowledge such as a college degree etc. Mental poverty is the lack of aspiration and hopes for a better future. It is the perceived lack of ability to change one’s life and that of those we care for. For me, it is a terrible form of poverty, perhaps even worse than the heart-wrenching material poverty.  Once unemployed for a sustained period of time, you will start convincing yourself that you are not good enough for the market, not competitive enough. The skills you have acquired from university, high school or from your previous work experience will quickly turn obsolete especially considering how fast our society is progressing.  This is the thought pattern that  would lead anyone to fall into the mental poverty described earlier. 

Financial poverty: 

The second kind of poverty that an unemployed person  will suffer from is financial poverty. Financial poverty simply means one can’t provide for themselves. The previous leads straightaway into a survival mode and that’s a terrible place to be at. People in survival mode are dangerous since they are ready to do anything, and I mean anything to survive. Consequently, this is one of the main reasons why there is such a high crime rate in South Africa. With the current rate of youth unemployment as high as 70%, what do we expect from those youth unable to work if not crime? That means that in a classroom of 10 students, only three students stand a chance to have a job. I once met the lead pastor of a local church and he made this statement over our exchange: if you want to know where a church will be in 10 years, you’ve got to look at the quality and health of their children ministry. And that’s one of the main reasons why the church in Europe has experienced such a huge decline in attendance; the children and youth simply stopped going to church, leaving attendance to the aging adult generation. I believe the same can be said of any country. If the quality and health of the future of a church is termined by its children and youth attendance, then the very future of our people as a continent is directly linked to how many youth are able to afford to live a decent life. Put differently, if you want to see the future of a country, you have to look at the quality of its youth. If 70% of the youth of South Africa do not have a job, what is the future of South Africa and Africa a whole? We must consider the youth because they will determine the fate of our country and continent within the next 30 years.  

The second reason why youth unemployment is such an issue is because of the potential that lies within them. They have energy, vivacity , and a fresh way of looking at the world that is required for real innovation to transpire. The youth, because of the fewer responsibilities, would typically have a more aggressive risk profile. They can take the risks an ordinary adult with a family can’t. Therefore, they have a lot more flexibility and freedom to take risks than any other age group in society. And since innovation and progress requires risks, aggressive risks, the youth should logically be the ones we rely on to take us through that progress.   

Lastly, youth is the majority. If the majority is suffering, what does that say about the nature and state of the country? The majority should have the vote. I’m going to remind us that in the 1950s, the apartheid regime put in place a new law called the Bantu Education Act. When this law was passed, it was the Youth who decided to take matters into their own hands and fought for their education. It’s the youth that stood up on the 16th of June 1976, young people between the ages of 13 to 18 years old who organized the peaceful walk that led to the freedom of education from the foreign and oppressive language of Afrikaans. Today, every 16th of June, the whole country of South Africa celebrates Youth Day. This is the potential of young people when they gather together and are united towards one single goal. They got this country to stand still and shake. Yet, when you look at the youth of today, our thoughts patterns towards them differ greatly with their potential.  We believe they are too young to do anything. We mistakenly look at them as people who are not useful to society. Yet, they have shown us multiple times that they can. If you look at the most innovative ideas of the end of the 20th, you will find youth at the very center of it all. Steve Jobs, for instance, launched Apple in the 1970 when  he was only a  young man, a youth. The very same goes for South African born Elon Musk. Bill Gates was equally only 20  when he launched Microsoft. Youth is at the forefront of innovation in Western countries, but here in Africa, we still see them as just children. This is one of the many reasons why I want to target the youth and empower them from the youngest age, to start realizing that they are useful and they can make a difference.I personally want to give them readily available knowledge that will equip them to make a difference from an early age.

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