Unemployment among young people is arguably one of the biting scourges that have ever hit our Motherland – Uganda. With statistics indicating that only 2 out of every 10 graduates are employed, this is a cause for alarm. There is a bone of contention on who is to blame. Should we blame the government or young people? Let us explore!

You will concur with me that, the government has not made an effort in building and ensuring that industries are up and running due to high levels of bureaucracy and unfavorable policies in place. The government has also not helped young people to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are frequently said to be needed in the labour market. Additionally, the education system had not been improved to impart young people with the skills that are required in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As young people, we have been left to the mercy of theories that worked in the 20th century. Let’s toss the other side of the coin.

I grapple with the issue of how young people use their time. Let’s draw down to the facts.

  • Majority of the young people spend nearly 6 hours on the internet daily. This translates to nearly 42 hours on the internet a week. What about a year?
  • Young people do not want to work with their hands. A young man with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture still looks for a white-collar job. The irony!
  • Most young people in Uganda never think of apprenticeship and volunteering as a way to create the advantage for future employment. What’s locked in their minds is; straight from university, directly, no time to waste to an office job with a good salary! Employment should come as soon as possible! Really?

Nevertheless, who’s willing to employ someone who is married to slang language? Who is willing to employ a graduate who cannot write a comprehensive report? Which institution will ever employ a young person without any experience in the intended field? The bitter truth is unemployment continues to bite as long as young people do not open the eyes and minds to identify what the current job market requires. The number of unemployed graduates is even increasing worldwide, even in countries with better economies.

We are living in the mid-Fourth Industrial Revolution where the internet is the biggest trend. Living in this generation is a blessing to our old parents in a way that life is more convenient for them but a curse in disguise for the youth. This is because many are bound to unemployment and the most that come along—poverty, emotional breakdown and turning a misfit in society. You have probably heard about big companies retrenching workers so that robots can replace them. Everything in this era revolves around the internet, artificial intelligence and the wide field of technology.

This implies that in order to be employed, we must possess the diverse skills that are relevant to the technological era. On this, Jack Ma, the richest man in China, was quoted verbatim “Machines should do what humans cannot do”.  Machines can carry, they can assemble machine parts and they can sell in malls! So what are humans left to do? Critical thinking skills, data analysis, and comprehensive report writing plus studying trends are the inky few options humans are left with. How many can do any of these with ease? How many young people, can do all the above? Why do we still blame the government, when we have the internet? Ironic, right?

I urge fellow young people, who wish to be employed to change in the destructive lifestyles they are leading—television, social media and day-long gossiping and small talk about celebrities. A young person can tell you Kim Kardashian’s bra size when she does not know hers. Alternatively, she could tell you how many times a Big Brother Naija participant goes to the toilet in a day. Still, expect to be employed?

The sad truth is no one will ever employ you and me when we have no experience. Moreover, how do you acquire it? Volunteering, apprenticeships, and internships are the answers. Read, read and read more. Keep being informed of how trends are changing. Do not give a second thought on the hunt for knowledge. Talk to people; ask how they got to their career paths. Do not just wait to do all this after university, and finally, you’ll have leverage over your fellow age mates that are soon turning into your competitors!

All the best as we learn how to decide and break down our destructive decisions to land our desired careers in the shortest time possible!

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