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Job prospects, a concern for all

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Today’s questions outweigh answers. The United Nations World Youth Report released in December last year shows there is need to look at job prospects for young people globally.

The youth in this report refers to those between the ages of 15 and 24.

Where do these young people stand and what can be done to manage the lack of jobs?

Zimbabwe’s young people are keen to know what they can do when they graduate, where they can get loans, what next after “O” levels, or quite simply what lies ahead.

The report it shows young people globally are worried about “the prevalence of unemployment, inadequate and falling salaries and poor working conditions; poor quality education, lack of skills, and skills ill-adapted to labour market needs; gender and other inequalities; risks and benefits associated with labour migration”.

There is often a preconceived idea that when we talk about unemployment and young people in Zimbabwe, we are only talking about young people who have completed their tertiary education — the 1 679 graduates from Zimbabwe Open University, the 459 from Great Zimbabwe University, the 2 325 graduates from the University of Zimbabwe, the 1 882 from Midlands State University and the other students who have or have not completed other studies.

But this idea of low job prospects would also apply to a young student who has just completed Form 4, wondering what subjects to select for “A” level.

Imagine the debate in one’s mind: “I enjoy Chemistry so this is what I will do” — not quite, so we move to: “I need to find subjects that will get me a good job, but because this is not always guaranteed, this student might settle for: “I need to consider a subject that would allow me to start my own business, something like business management. I need to take the commercial route.”

Young people now have to juggle various options in their mind, basing their decisions on job prospects alone.

This concern for lack of job prospects is also made more prominent when we consider an issue where a young girl, who during her school holiday is forced to go and find a job as a housemaid so she can make enough money for her upkeep and contribution to school fees.

Such a girl is already in the working world, but would probably no longer be driven to excel in school. She might be led to believe employment is difficult to find anyway after school, so she might as well get on with what she has experienced.

Seeing as the thought process on job prospects begins from a very young age, this shows the concern goes beyond the graduate, or the unemployed.
While students are still learning, it is important to give sufficient career guidance, analysing the career trends globally for students to make the right subject choices.

There is also need to address the standard of education and that all should have access to good education, a requirement the world has created for success. Similarly this education should go beyond the traditional subjects.

It is important to consider teaching and learning other vocational skills as these might actually be a strength for some students.

According to the International Labour Organisation, the rate of youth unemployment rose globally from 11,7 % in 2007 to 12,7% in 2011, with 74,7 million unemployed youth around the world in 2011. These are high figures, considering the future of the countries affected lies in young people.

Zimbabwe falls among the countries with the highest percentage of young people in 2010 (The African region had 205 million young people at this time), this alone is an indication that where job prospects are concerned we need to continuously keep young people in mind.

Finally in the report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasises: “Today we have the largest generation of young people the world has ever known.
“They are demanding their rights and a greater voice in economic and political life.

“We need to pull the UN system together like never before to support a new social contract of job-rich economic growth. Let us start with young people!”

If you would like to send some of your comments and thoughts feel free to email: nndlovu@newsday.co.zw. If you have written any article, poem, short story and would like to have it featured in future, you can send it to the same address.

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