OPINION: How to deal with unemployment among the youth


A street in Nairobi
File image of a street in Nairobi. PHOTO| COURTESY

By Allan Chesang

An estimated 800,000 Kenyan youth join the labour market each year whereas unemployment amongst the youth is approximated to be at 35% comparable to the overall national unemployment rate of 10%.

These figures are staggering, yet there is hope still. Each and every one of us has a natural knack or gift or talent at something. Anything. If not talent, then each one of us has the ability to learn a skill of trade. When you are caught between a rock and a hard place, then you realise that the will to survive does kick in.

Ask yourself, what am I good at? What can I do, at ease that can earn me income? No matter how small at first. Because what’s important is taking that first step. Let us stop looking at the whole picture for a minute. Let us stop thinking about moving from step zero to step a hundred all at once. Instead let us look at moving from step zero to step one. One step at a time.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Then a step at a time, we shall find that we are actually moving forward. It is so important to move forward always. What’s that saying? If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. As long as you keep moving forward.

So have some alone time to think and analyse yourself critically. What am I good at? Gifted at. Growing up, at school, what did your fellow students casually comment on your gifts? What did your teachers say you are naturally good at? Is it writing, drawing, and sports? Is it music, drama? If you can’t think of anything, then let us open our minds to learning a new skill.

In the world we live in today, there are a lot of things that we can do. Be it digital marketing, be it the beauty industry. Identify what you are good at, then market yourself. Don’t be shy. Ask for help. Beggars are not choosers. Network. Dare to put yourself out there.

Then before you know it, you have moved from step zero to step one, then step two. If before you didn’t have a thousand shillings. Now you earn that a thousand. You will feel such joy. Such pride. That will propel you to move to step two. Then step three. And as time moves by, you find that you actually have a running business that is earning you income.

Then you get capital to expand your trade. Do more on a larger scale. Then before you know it, the workload becomes too much for just one person, and you hire help. You just created employment! That is creativity .That is innovation.

For those of us who are blessed with the capability to create employment urge you to take a chance at our Kenyan youth. With caution obviously, but remember, many a folk strive for high ideals. Thus your calculated risk may just turn into a profitable venture.

Give that friend you know that job you need done. That assignment you need get done. Give the youth a chance. They are the future. And they may surprise you with their talent, and natural gifts. Let us support the local traders rather than rushing to import. As consumers, let us buy from that local manufacturer instead of going for that expensive imported product.

Let us support our own. Because we have the solution in our hands. Right here. We just have to think outside the box. Push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. The human brain is malleable and expandable to accommodate the need to survive. Necessity is the mother of invention. Where there is a will, there is always a way. Let us do this!

Allan Chesang is a commentator on socio-political issues and founder of the Allan Chesang Foundation

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