UNEMPLOYMENT has been biasedly viewed as a deterrent factor to economic growth by many countries around the globe, of which Zambia is not an exception.
Nevertheless, on another level, unemployment is a major eye-opener for many small, medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups in Zambia and in developed countries.
Some degree of unemployment is economically, socially and perhaps personally desirable. Much of unemployment in Zambia may just consists of new entrants to the labour market (mostly graduates) seeking their first job, while the second set comprises individuals, who are voluntarily changing jobs or occupations and people who have lost jobs through contract termination and normal lay-offs.
From my own viewpoint, unemployment is just often a one facet of an inescapable process of search to fit in the labour market. The Zambian jobs and job-seekers (the unemployed) are varied along many other dimensions.
Essentially the unemployed differ (among other ways) by intelligence, education, training, creativity, experience, physical size and strength, manual dexterity, ability to sustain repetitive tasks, and preferences about their work environment.
While jobs may also vary in the abilities, education, and experience that are required to perform them, as well as in working conditions, location, opportunities for advancement, and many other characteristics.
Since job-seekers and jobs are varied, the process of matching the characteristics of a specific job-seeker with the most suitable vacant job is frequently not reached quickly.
In his or her place the job-seekers and employers having vacant jobs engage in a two-sided search, seeking to achieve a good match as quickly as possible.
The time for this search process for typical job-seekers is a major factor in determining the unemployment rate. This matching process in Zambia takes a little longer period to be achieved and along the way many job-seekers get frustrated, impatient, discouraged and loose both focus and worthiness. Others get energised and redirect their effort to something valuable other than job search to earn a living.
Remarkably, it is at this period of matching process that job-seekers (and other concerned people) fail to appreciate the wholesome side of unemployment or rather the positive role that unemployment plays in the economic growth of any nation. Interestingly enough, unemployment is an engine of change that needs to be powered up by entrepreneurship which should be the driving force for the economic growth of our country.
Therefore, the role of unemployment is insurmountably essential to stir up or rather squeeze out the innermost intelligence and creative potential of many job-seekers to become self-reliant, innovative and engage in entrepreneurs.
The ambiance that surrounds the unemployed though hard and tough is that it may be, squeezing them to the colder corner of life should be the turning point for them.
And it has been a special turning point for many unemployed who are now entrepreneurs whom I have come across; example is Mr Wham Simunntala who to says that â€œunemployment leads us to be entrepreneurs, and I always think entrepreneurship to be survival.â€
Arguably, in many commentaries, perceptions, and some realities, unemployment is seen as being the destroyer of the economy. Nevertheless, unemployment can bring economic and social progress in society. What matters is the attitude towards being an employed.
Dickson Simfukwe another entrepreneur and a survival of unemployment once said, â€œStaying without employment propels us to think of alternatives for survival. It brings thoughts such as; should this situation continue? What am I going to do for a living? In the process of trying out something we end up finding lasting solutions for us such that we would not even wish to ever work for anyone.â€
â€œAt grassroots unemployment helps us to brainstorm and find viable solutions. Such that in a long run it provides a permanent employment even though start up remains a big challenge for manyâ€ Mr Simfukwe adds.
In essence, it is through unemployment stage when people will think about many innovative and creative ideas that can shape the face of the country.
People can bring up good enterprising plans which can further be developed into viable businesses that can actually grow the economy. The call for entrepreneurship and its growth cannot be overemphasised because it remains a pinnacle cause of economic development of the economy, and a major contributor to labour absorption or employment creation. In the end the unemployed entrepreneurs can become the employers.
It still remains imperative for the unemployed to start thinking outside the box and come to a full realisation to the fact that the myth that entrepreneurs are born does not hold today.
If we change the attitude towards the status quo of employment in our country, we can be nurtured into successful entrepreneurs who can drive the economy forward.
The author is a holder of BSc and an entrepreneur
Brighter side of unemployment: Engine of change