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Zambia’s shrinking job market

Your Family Matters with PASTOR CHANDA
THURSDAY, May 12, 2016: Am I the only one fearing for our young people as I see the shrinking job market in Zambia? It is fearful. When I was growing up, Grade 12s were able to find clerical jobs in companies all over the country. That is no longer the case.
I also recall that college and university students would find holiday employment in various companies. They would participate in various research projects. Thus, when schools opened they had extra cash in their pockets apart from what their parents gave them.
In those days, the jobs of security guards were monopolised by Grade 7 dropouts. Today, when I speak to security guards, they are all telling me that they are Grade 12s and are hoping to go on to college if they can raise funds for further education.
In the meantime, college and university graduates do not have jobs. Parents pay for their education from Grade 1 to college and university, only to find their children stuck with them for lack of employment. Surely, something must be wrong with this.
In Western countries, you find adverts placed in shops and shopping malls inviting young people to apply for basic jobs to enable them pay their way through college or university. That is a great blessing to parents and to their children, too.
The crime in the Western world is that young people with all the right qualifications do not want to get off their backsides and join the working world. The jobs are there but they are simply spoilt brats who want to enjoy free accommodation and food from their parents.
What makes our situation even scarier is the proliferation of private universities and colleges. It means that we will be churning out more and more graduates from these institutions but without businesses and jobs to absorb them. This cannot be right.
Instead of the private universities and colleges being a means to an end, they are fast becoming an end in themselves. Instead of supplying trained manpower for industry, which does not exist, they have become the industry themselves. They are a dead end!
We need jobs. We need more jobs. We need an exponential number of jobs or else we will find ourselves with a revolution on our hands. This is a ticking time bomb. Hungry youths can only listen up to a point. Beyond that the situation can become very messy.
Sadly, many of our young people are resorting to buying and selling items through the famous Tuntembas. They buy a big bag of mealie-meal and divide it into small bags and then start selling them at the roadside. That is totally unsustainable.
Those who are more adventurous are going further afield to buy cheap Chinese goods that you use today and they break tomorrow. They are then selling them to unwary customers in various markets and on the streets. Again, that is totally unsustainable.
The biggest trouble we are in is that we as parents have taught our children that work is about “making money”. Sadly, that was what our parents taught us as well. So, as long as someone is making money they are content. That is not what work is about.
We need to get back to basics. God said, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). As parents, we multiply through child bearing and child rearing. The process should end with the children subduing the earth. That is what work is about.
That is the mandate that God has given us. You only have to open your eyes to see the vast potential that still remains unsubdued in our beautiful country of Zambia. When you fly over this land you see that most of it is still an untouched green carpet of grass and trees.
We have the task of turning this country into a slice of heaven on earth by exploiting its innate potential, using the skills we acquire through school. It is this vision that will get us out there doing something, and will result in job creation. This is the vision we have lost!
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