Thursday, 14 April 2016

Youth Unemployment - Perspective

My experience working on the YAE project since 2012, exposed me to a variety of salient issues youths in Nigeria are confronted with. Some of these findings have shaped my perspective on the unemployment issue.

1. OPPORTUNITIES - During the initial research phase of the YAE project, a detailed survey was carried out to gauge the depth of the unemployment problems. The most noticeable issue exposed by the survey was the chronic lack of opportunities for the youth population. The lack of balanced participation and representation of young people amongst the policy-makers made it extremely hard to propagate laws that included youth problems amongst the policies been passed. Majority of young people I interacted with were keen on gaining useful employment mainly driven by the desire to gain independence and self-expression. The level of willingness demonstrated by most of the individuals was not proportional to the opportunities available. There are very few youth specific jobs created by the policy makers in the country to address youth unemployment and poverty. A pervading belief of solving youth poverty and empowerment by creating jobs for their parents was evident. This is main driven by the cultural view of empowering the parents and assuming that it translates as empowerment for their children.

2. INAPPROAPRIATE TRAINING AND SKILL SET - The 21st century has experienced incredible development in science and technology which has affected the socio-economic landscape globally. The job market is constantly shifting and evolving to match these developments. Job definitions are changing and valued skills set have evolved to the point that its completely contrary to those been proffered to youths in academic institutions. A lot of young people are been trained through formal education along the models and syllabuses created to suit the economy of the last century. The education we received was modeled after an economy that was driven on quantization and classification. Jobs had defined roles and expectations. A science student focused on learning the theories and concept valuable and isolated to the scientific world without the need to learn business skills, social sciences or consumer behavior while a student of the arts faculty would focus on their discipline without any understanding of the telecommunications, environmental sciences. The current global economy on the contrary places high value on dynamic and versatile personnel due to the complex overlap and interaction of various disciplines for a given job. This has led to an increase in young people spending valuable years in educational training and then ushered into a global economy that has no need for their skills set. Another factor that is often muted is the penchant for parents to coerce their children into studying disciplines that are traditionally viewed as reputable professions while the interest, the zeal and natural flair for that field might not be present in the individual.

3. THE ENTREPRENEURIAL APPEAL – The focus on entrepreneurship as a tool of battling unemployment has been prevalent amongst majority of developmental organizations with interest in youth unemployment. This trend has become so popular because it’s a solution that typifies the bottom –up approach. Young individuals without jobs and a steady means of income invariably turn to various forms of entrepreneurship. This is usually an option driven by necessity. The increasing number of young individuals going through formal education and decreasing number job of opportunities has forced young individuals to create their own jobs. This option has become very popular with the high level of job insecurity. Jobs are created and destroyed at a faster rate than ever before in our history this has made the appeal of entrepreneurship stronger for young individuals that are about to start their careers. This factor along with the desire to express their own identity and beliefs in the global socio-economic landscape has led to a lot of youth wanting to become entrepreneurs. As a young person, we believe we have novel ideas, new ways of viewing the world’s challenges and new needs that can only be serviced by creating our own enterprises to solve them.
4. GLOBAL PEER LINKAGE - My experiences working with agriculture as a developmental tool in Nigeria has exposed me to the vast possibilities that lay abound in entrepreneurship in the country and the continent at large. Re-positioning the African youths to partake in the entrepreneurial pursuit and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive would play a massive role in helping Africa overcome its last major challenge outside of peace and security – youth unemployment. Attracting individuals and corporations with the know-how of developing enterprises and businesses in Africa would only be possible with strong ground work in investment finance, business networking opportunities and developing indigenous capabilities to trade with their global counterparts. A strong framework of business development across and between African countries would need to be in existence for this vision to be achieved.