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Youth unemployment solution

05 February 2014, 07:13

Politicians, commentators and ordinary citizens of the world know full well that there is a serious unemployment problem worldwide and many of them also know there is a relationship between youth unemployment, alienation and violence. Pope Francis called youth unemployment one of “…the most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days…”

But no-one seems to know what kind of jobs we should prepare the next generation for. Here are a few suggestions for secure employment by the year 2030.

Young Entrepreneurs

While we’re teaching people to be better employees, we should also invest in teaching them the mindset, coupled with the skills, to be innovators and entrepreneurs. Developing the ability to recognize opportunity and giving young people the tools to capitalize on those opportunities empowers them to take ownership of their future in ways which directly link education to real-world success.

In other words, putting a young person to work does not mean finding them a job. In some cases, with the right investment in entrepreneurship and the encouragement to succeed, young people will create their own jobs and, in many cases, hire others. They can and will invent the next big things that change lives, lift up communities and grow economies.

Youth Stokvels

Stokvels have always been a major source of investment for many South Africans. These are a group of people (mainly women) who come together to collectively share their aspirations, basic things in life, facing their personal and family challenges and fulfilling their dreams.

Recently; Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor revealed that stokvels had 11.4 million members and the current estimated value of the stokvel market in South Africa was at R45.1 billion per annum as compared to approximately R38.6 billion in 2011. It was very disappointing to learn from the same investment monitor that South Africa’s savings rate is just under 16% of GDP, compared to 34% in India and about 20% in Russia our BRICS friends.

Stokvels are a good way for people to help motivate each other to save, and are like social clubs where members also help each other in ways other than with money. Young people can be motivated to save because the other members will know if they haven’t paid their contribution, and also because the regular meetings are a reminder of gains.

  

Small scale financiers

With poor black populations expanding into the middle and upper classes, conditions of living changing for the better for many; one thing we are likely to see is further growth of a need for financiers: for example, pro-middle class financial planning or pro middle class venture capital. Given current redlining in the traditional banking, we might also see the development of related forms of alternative banking, where bankers refuse to lend money for purely speculative purposes, preferring instead to lend to individuals or institutions that create or build things with inherent social value. So, when are starting to encourage graduates to flock into the next generation of banking? It's not impossible.

Doctors and nurses

We've already got a changing public health system, telemedicine, medical tourism and even innovative surgery, so what is it about healthcare that's future proof? The answer is trust. Do you really want life-saving surgery to take place in a country where you don't speak the language? And have you ever met a robot with a good bedside manner that can gently hold your hand and tell you that everything will be all right? No. Thought not.

Teachers

It may not sound very futuristic, but if South Africa is to compete with the likes of China and India it needs to become more competitive and education is the key. You might expect education to be virtual by 2030, and parts of it will be, but a fully outsourced, automated, massively open, online future is unlikely to be the case, especially in early year’s education where socialization and empathy are key ingredients.

Of course, the challenge here is to persuade citizens and government to continue spending more on education when the natural inclination is to downplay the debt by spending less. Let's not forget also that South Africa is facing challenges considered to be typical of developing world – epidemic of chronic diseases of lifestyle, growing middle class, debt trap, etc - so there is already political pressure from some sections of voters to switch spending from public services to enriching individuals going forward. We should resist the temptation.

In conclusion; the support landscape in South Africa for young entrepreneurs is like the business world itself – it is teeming with opportunities, but entrepreneur’s need to seek these opportunities out, think outside the box and build their own support network. “Nobody is going to hand it to you on a silver platter.”

With 73 million young people unemployed in the world (2013), the challenge is great. However, these examples of entrepreneurialism, both as a practice and a mindset, can help to tackle the problem of youth unemployment. If this can be combined by a greater level of pro-activity, from both government and civil society, to educate our young people; change in the near future can be a reality.

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