“I’m looking for a job” is a common phrase constantly used by the youths of Zambia. The levels of youth unemployment in Zambia are very worrying, and the sad part is that the majority are looking for white collar jobs, as most of the youths lack innovative skills. The government hasn’t done much to curb this situation, because even the ones that hold public offices in most cases are very old as they are career civil servants, and to make matters worse the retirement age was revised to 65, and so this makes it hard for youths to get employed.
Another thing also affecting the youths of our country is that most companies when employing want individuals with a certain number of years of experience, for example, 5 or 6 years of experience, and most youths are fresh university and college graduates with no work experience. Every year, the universities and colleges offload thousands of graduates to the job market and all these will be fighting for the few jobs that are available, making it very competitive.
On March 12, 2016, Zambia celebrated youth day under the theme; Youth: Champions of Dialogue, Peace, Unity and Economic Emancipation.” With this theme, youths are supposed to be considered as the pillars of economic growth and development, but that is not the case as most youths remain unemployed and roam the streets in order to make ends meet.
However, in the midst of all this, Challenges Worldwide, in conjunction with ICS (International Citizen Service) run a programme that aims to give youths between the ages of 18-25 skills and experience in various small -medium enterprises, equipping them for professional working environment or to even one day create their own business and have the skills to manage that business and its employees.
I graduated in December 2015, and I am currently on the ICS programme. I was placed at Zebra crossings cafe, which is in the hospitality industry. My counterpart Sheila and I, have been of great help to the enterprise, we have helped them with marketing and social media presence, we also helped in the organisation of the first ever pub quiz at the cafe, which boosted up sales, and with this we chatted to the owners of how evening events will boost the enterprise’s profits and sales because the cafe closes at 5pm, so they can appeal to a new market. We are currently working on their financial books, because they have none in place. Serena the owner says, “I wish I could adopt you girls, you are so amazing”.
I have learnt a lot about cross cultural working, having its own kind of challenges, Through working through the prescribed CMI (chartered Management Institute) course content i have learnt some marketing and negotiation skills as well as other tools to enable us to help the business grow.
Finally, being a youth is never an easy thing especially in a developing country like Zambia. I would encourage my fellow youths out there that there is new hope and opportunities coming to those who are already on the dance floor, let’s be productive and seize every opportunity that comes our way and never lose hope. We are the future leaders and the future is now.
Written by ILLUNGA SAKALA