Thursday, April 9, 2020

The agony of the young unemployed!

It is understandable that to many young people, both skilled and ill-educated, the weave of economic statistics recently churned out by the President in his State of the Nation Address to back up his assertion that job creation has gone up passed as just another political posturing.

To them their President sounded further and further detached from reality.
Try as they could, they would not make sense which jobs the big man was referring to. Months on end they have been walking the streets searching for employment.
And months on end they could not get a job.

As a result, the young souls could not help but come to the conclusion that may be because of his many travels abroad, their President was referring to another country he had once visited in his sojourns abroad.

In the Botswana they know, they walk the streets every day looking for jobs that do not exist, yet here was their president telling them hundred of such jobs actually exist.

Joblessness is one of the biggest evils ruining Botswana’s young people.
A grave existence of hopelessness prevails in Botswana of today where young people are groping to give meaning to their lives.

The sooner we face these hard facts the better.

Too many young souls have now been irreparably damaged because they had spent a few years doing nothing with their lives.

Staying idle has made these young peoples lives increasingly meaningless. They have also lost their sense of self esteem.

Because they have also lost their identity, they now rightly or wrongly feel they owe the society nothing.
They search to see what society has given them and their lives and all they see is humiliation.

Now that is very scary.
It’s like we are creating a whole generation of perverts.
There is no need to belabour on the importance of having a job.

A job is important to one’s health not just because of the money it gives, but, perhaps, more importantly, of the psychological fitness it provides.
A job provides a sense of worth. It brings meaning to one’s life and reinforces a sense of identity.
A generation of young Batswana lacking all those attribute has now been created and as a people we are about to pay the price.

Botswana’s mass unemployment has reached intolerable levels and when the bubble bursts no amount of police is going to control the backlash.

As a country, we have created a situation where, instead of looking ahead with vigour and hope, many young Batswana feel isolated, deserted and helpless.

This applies even to the privileged few who have been lucky to land a place at the university.

These young souls look outside their academic halls and see their college forerunners loitering around the streets with haggard faces, unemployed and struggling to make a living at all.
Now that is dangerous.

Experience from elsewhere in the world teaches us that when too many young people look ahead and see no hopes of better lives when they complete school they begin to agitate for rebellion.
Experience teaches us that when dispirited with their lives meaningless, young people easily fall victim to some of the worst possible influences the world has seen.

The same experience also teaches us that while the state, through the use of its security forces and welfare systems, can struggle to impose and restore order, such order is artificial and short-lived.

It is not long before it crumbles.
This analysis, if true and when put against the cold reality of what has been simmering and building over the last 15 years with a groundswell of young people entering the shrinking job market, then we should be really worried.

Two years ago in another State of the Nation Address, President Festus Mogae made what by all accounts amounted to one of the biggest announcements of his presidency.

President Mogae told the nation he had instructed his government to relax stringent experience requirements so as to allow more young graduates to enter the civil service.
He was worried by the swelling levels of youth unemployment and came to the conclusion it was totally unhealthy for the country.

While we know that his instruction was never implemented, we shall never know why not for he never revisited the theme in his subsequent conversations with the nation.

In the meantime a struggle for identity among the youth goes on.
In the meantime our worry persists that, if not addressed urgently, youth unemployment may fester and degenerate into mass scale outbreaks of lawlessness and violence.

As a nation, we should be worried at the now deeply entrenched social and economic alienation among the youth caused by unemployment.

While there are arguments that youth alienation is caused by alcohol abuse, drugs and failure to use existing government scheme, the real solution to these ills lies in employment creation.
A way has to be found to avert this potential disaster.