Young people: The journey from job-seeking to innovation and creation of employment.
Generational Survival Cycles
A global phenomenon that has baffled many a policy maker is how to address the crisis of youth unemployment. But what really is unemployment? You are said to be unemployed if you are jobless and actively seeking for a job but are unable to find it. This basically implies a lack of opportunity to put your skills, experience, talent and passion to good use for profit or any other cause that you deem worthy. However, look around at our modern world. You realize that there are many problems, both global and local, which provide many opportunities for a keen eye to capitalize on and offer business solutions. From the growing challenge of lifestyle diseases like cancer & diabetes, to more localized issues like food security, the problem seems to be not a lack of opportunity but a demand for new ways of thinking. Ironically, even as problems seem to persist and become more complex, posing opportunities for the keen, the number of jobs are declining, and the rate of unemployment is rising. This sharp decline of jobs is only natural and somewhat by design, and the burden is now on the current generation to find new means of survival or perish.
If the situation was not dire enough, the Covid-19 pandemic came to ascertain indeed, tougher times are coming ahead. According to the UN, close to 1.6 billion people employed in the informal sector globally, could see their livelihoods destroyed due to the continued decline in working hours brought about by lockdowns and other measures put up to curb the spread of Covid-19. Data modelled from the International Labour Organization also shows that the global rate of unemployment has steadily risen from a low of 4.8% in 1992 to an average of about 5.7% from 2011 to 2019, before shooting up to an all time high of about 6.5% in 2020 due to the pandemic. With new Covid-19 virus variants emerging, and the advertent hoarding of vaccines by the West at the expense of third world countries, we know that the pandemic is indeed far from over. Sadly, many more jobs may be on the line.
The youth will build the next frontier of human survival.
The youth will build and grow the next frontier of human survival. It’s not a choice, it is a necessity. But how will they do this if they inherit the same jobs their parents had? Conversely, how will our parents build the internet? They don’t have the resources, infrastructure, time, and energy. Young people do. For tomorrow to happen, today must lower its sights and curve a new path. It’s not bad luck, it’s the cycle.
The 1900s to 1940s
This period marked the generation of our grandfathers and forefathers. It’s a generation that knew no internet, no car, no machine, no industry, and no roads, rail, or air transport. The lifestyle of this generation revolved around food, shelter, and clothing — all from nature. It’s no surprise that our grandfathers had bows and arrows, spears, and wherewithal to deal with wild creatures and win their survival. They hunted, gathered and later planted their food. It was not their choice; it was the cycle.
The 1940s – 1960s
This is the generation of our fathers and mothers. Albeit reared in a naturalistic, organic setting, this generation bore the brunt of a painful transitional cycle. This generation designed the industrial revolution, powered rails, and roads with coal and water. The boomers discovered traditional advertising. Yes, they’re the wealthiest. They hold the highest disposable incomes and spending power across all generational categories. How did they become so economically polarizing? They embraced. They supported the transition from an agrarian system to an industrial one. They merchandised, marketed, and sold. They owned lands and reinvented new production means.
The 1980s – 2000s
The produce of the boomers targeted millennial consumers. Their blood and sweat were to be paid off by their successors. With the advent of the industry came televised advertising, a cornerstone of consumerism. Consumerism was inadvertently designed for the millennial. To push the industrial produce, boomers had to find new ways of convincing the millennials that the industrial gains were worth their money and time. Television, radio, and newspapers became the means of mass communication, replacing smoke, fire, and humans.
Embracing the Norm
The millennial generation, industrially and commercially targeted by the boomers, must find new ways of survival. It’s not a choice. Nature has signaled this new frontier through many pointers. A growing scarcity of archaic, legacy jobs and the sporadic uptake of freelancing gigs accentuates a new wake.
Welcome to the gig economy, with unconventional careers like social media influencing and a ‘work-from-home’ culture that’s only been confirmed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The freelancing industry is here, and to stay. Millennials must toil to materialize fresh survival mechanisms. Why then, should we complain of unemployment when indeed we’re naturally tasked to bridge a new idea?
The writer is Jesse Kamunyu
Jesse Kamunyu comments on topical issues