Sometime back we wrote about unemployment in our country and of its effects on the extended family that informs the social structures in our society.
We pointed out how the income of one family member could be sustaining on average between five and seven people and thus increasing the level of poverty among families.
An even more serious phenomenon is the rising youth unemployment in our midst.
Indeed many of our leaders have touched on the issue, calling for a focused approach to find solution to the problem before it gets out of hand, if it has not already.
We are aware that there are efforts on the ground to address the challenges of youth unemployment in the country, but sadly they are yet to make a significant impact, with the number of jobless youths growing annually against a stagnant job sector.
Revisiting the issue the other day, the Ilala municipal mayor Jerry Slaa advised youths in the country to go for self employment, pointing out that over 800,000 youths finish schools and colleges every year and start looking for jobs, while the government can only employ 40,000 people per year.
"Now if we don’t think of creating self-employment, where will the 760,000 people go? Even the private sector employs very few people and their jobs are not sustainable," he said.
He went on to point out an existing misconception among many young people in the country that being employed in government offices and large corporations brings respect, forgetting that some private jobs pay more, giving the example of some petty traders whose incomes beat those of office employees.
And that is where the issue of new thinking about jobs comes in. That is where stakeholders including the government, addressing the issue should do more to focus the thinking and energies of the young people seeking to engage in productive life.
The strategy must go beyond the traditional concept of job creation.
For many of the seekers, jobs are mainly in urban areas and mostly found in offices and factories. Of course we do not blame those who hold this concept, for that is how it has been inculcated in them in schools and most training institutions. The rural-urban migration also gives leverage to the notion that jobs for the educated are to be found in urban areas.
Organisations involved in training the school leaving youths for self employment therefore have a lot of work in store for them in terms of changing mindsets, encouraging the youths to venture into the new opportunities and on how to access resources.
Sadly, we learn from one of the organisations that the attendance by some of the target groups to these training sessions is lukewarm at best.
It is our hope that the stakeholders will sit to discuss the issue and establish why there is such low enthusiasm for such a positive undertaking and take measures to ensure that more youths are aware of and grab the opportunities before them.
Needless to say, this is the most concrete way that the youths, with their skills, agile minds and physical energies, can contribute to changing the fortunes of this country, if they play their part fully.