In a country affected by handshakes
(photo Credit: KCB Social media)
“People are wrong when they think that an unemployed man only worries about losing his wages; on the contrary, an illiterate man, with the work habit in his bones, needs work even more than he needs money. An educated man can put up with enforced idleness, which is one of the worst evils of poverty. But a man like Paddy, with no means of filling up time, is as miserable out of work as a dog on the chain. That is why it is such nonsense to pretend that those who have ‘come down in the world’ are to be pitied above all others.
The man who really merits pity is the man who has been down from the start,
and faces poverty with a blank, resourceless mind.”
― George Orwell,
Google says 100 billion people have lived on the planet earth since time. Out of which more than seven billion still hover around, yourself included. China alone plays home to about a billion of them. If that doesn’t surprise, Kenya has about forty five million people. Just in case your handset has a calculator in the place of Instagram (am talking of you grown guys) please calculate what fraction is that against the world and let’s meet at the comment section and compare notes. Somebody is not mesmerized yet. Okay final punchline; Kenya has unemployment rate standing at a whopping 45%. Okay I know numbers are boring but in them exists facts. So hold on. What that means is half the country is poor and by UN standards earn and spend less than a dollar a day (a dollar is a hundred bucks in Kenyan lingual) Worst still, of the other half that’s ‘safe’ a direct half is in jubilee and the other in NASA (and I heard about matters Wetangula over the past three days and they are convinced that a man with one cow can not be in charge of a cattle dip unless it’s a bull. Here to other news making headlines in the ego bulging corridors of Twitter. You know KOT?
If there’s any conversation the above narrative triggers then it’s the fact that our country suffers from a deadly youth unemployment crisis. It’s deadly deep glaring.
At forty five million a population as a country with an annual budget running into trillions Kenya should be at a better place economically. It might sound pedestrian, rather Streetwise that at forty five million against say 2.1 trillion budget, every one can comfortably walk home with a cool share of the pie and develop the nation in their own capacity. In as much as such a thought is misguided and uneconomically viable, it might open us to the fact that resources are at our disposal but those tasked with managing the resources bask in run away Corruption.
With the advent of devolution there presented an opportunity for concerted efforts towards priorities such as job creation. Such would go a long way in scaling down the rate of youth unemployment. For now it’s a matter of let’s wait and see.
The leadership has always said the youth are leaders of tomorrow. Starts to appear that the same tomorrow keeps getting new at every dawn. Because, well, they have always said “tomorrow” What we need perhaps away from the empty talk is robust Youth centred policies that are motivated primarily to help induce capacity building. In so doing we ought not to give youth fish (read political handouts) but teach them how to fish (think long-term)
Politics as we know has been a matter of contention year in year out. Politicians continue to offer nothing but empty promises in what now appears as a cycle of lies every electioneering period. Wanting to sound politically correct perhaps, every politician will always include an item on job creation coming top and conspicuously visible. It will appear that they have the youth at heart and are hell bent to work on their dwindling fortunes going forward. But they will politick for so long that the economy will be shaken and shops will close and companies will lay off staff in masses.
Speaking of which,Corruption has a fair share of blame to apportion. You and I know that there’s very slim chances of Trump visiting Kenya before his term lapses but there’s higher a chance of being asked at that reception “who sent you?” Well, it’s Kenya and you have to know someone until or unless someone knows you!. Corruption with its battalion of first line cousins; tribalism, nepotism, ethnicity and others will pass for the elephants in the room when you have to talk matters unemployment. Every one says it’s our time to eat! Halo?
Unfortunately our Leadership is not as vocal about it. The church, political leadership, civil organisations, human rights and activism fraternity do not do and say as much with regards to addressing the root causes of youth unemployment. Let’s face it but the earlier we call a spade a spade the better.
Just the other day, the headlines reported of massive police service resignations due to what was alluded as coherent government inspired pay cuts. Such news are not good news. Soon or later crime and criminality is going to be the order of the day. How? You ask? In his response, some guy Owino reiterated “it’s a mistake that the salaries were increased to start with and rather than live with a mistake, they’d rather fix it.” Again feathers were rattled. In some news item yesterday evening, some gullible youths were conned into believing they were being recruited into the army. Such are the heights an economy wallowing in the miasma of unemployment distress goes to.
Just barely a week back, standard newspaper published an article in what the age limit for parastatals CEOs was stretched to allow them serve a life time. Here is that story; https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001274162/state-agency-bosses-to-serve-for-life. What does that mean for example? It means less people will enter the job market as lesser employees will exit stage. It will kill the whole idea of successive planning. And you and I will uphold that might not be as good as sliced bread.
In the onset of the week, I read about the poverty indexes per County in research findings published by both the nation and standard newspapers and my conclusion is we are trending on murky waters. A fair majority of us live under a dollar earning a day threshold devolution not withstanding. It’s how I will bring out that Middle class is a bubble debate soon.
That reminds me of the boring fact that at fifty five years of maturity, we are a nation thriving on Handshakes. Just the other day politics took a tall order on us. We almost forgot about our Nationhood. We forgot about our immediate woes of unemployment and poverty and a youth lost on purpose. Why? Just because some two gentlemen shook hands in camera. We already assume all is well. Problems are solved. The paradox of Caanan is here. Yet if we don’t get careful enough it might just be that story of out of the frying pan into the fire. After all I shake hands with a million chaps and no one gives a damn!
Every year in Kenya, the now balloted higher levels of learning institutions release to the job market thousands of graduates ready for work. Unfortunately lesser organizations are available and willing to employ them. The above scenario mushrooms; a population of youth empowered to do the work of looking for work. They will spend the whole day ranting on social media about their sorry situation. And just as how a fierce German Shepherd would do, bark at every passer by who looks like is rubbing them the wrong way. They ooze of bile. It’s understandable.
Yester night the gods of moods were solemn (disclaimer: not that they are not usually) Missus and I drifted to talk about search issues as what affects us. How we get here we are trying to figure out whether that idea of the big Five careers still measures water. The big Five include; Medicine, Law, Pilot, Engineering and Architecture. Back in the day parents had the notion that such are what would pass for “serious” careers. You will agree just as NASA chaps say things change (they have changed for them and Wetangula too) Technology and trends and globalization happened and there are newer kids on the block. In fact career aspirations for most of us have shifted from what pays to following own aspirations of Talent and hobby. Lately you will find more people working in careers they never studied at school.
Brain drain is an issue to grapple with. Being a medic she asserts “the government uses up as high as a million shillings to train a single doctor over the seven years but the same doctor finds it more lucrative to jet out into the far land to graze on greener pastures because well, the droughts are hitting and the grass is not as green here at home.” As a country we lose. Next, we appear on TV, shake hands and jet off to Cuba to go drive home about a hundred doctors who don’t mind peanuts for pay. That’s what some friend will call cosmetic solutions. Speaking of which those Dubai stories and Kenyans suffering in the middle east at the hands of merciless employers are rife. If you have ever watched those random clips relayed on WhatsApp and social media, then you need to also watch Lupitas “twelve years a slave” and connect the dots.
Recently I was chasing time at a friend’s office. We talked about stuff. Then the rainy weather. Then the floods. Then handshakes. It got boring. We drifted to the sad state of affairs. It was a lengthy monologue on his personal experience with Job interviews in this town. It was not as boring as handshakes. He talked of days he applied for a billion jobs. Of the many emails and posts that were never returned. Of employers who wanted fifty years experience at thirty years of age. Of days he quoted his pay low. And of days he overpriced himself. And of days he was lost of choice. It brings out Employers mistakes and we might want to talk about that in a different setting here. And while there we appreciate the need for continuous training.
In the same conversation with missus It hit us how we so desperately need skilled training as a nation. We remembered of our old good friends who did subjects such as wood work, metal work, art and craft, home science and what have you. It’s evident such a person is well equipped compared to this day’s kids who take five subjects only at school. And as Robert Fort would say, that has made all the difference! There’s a time we had middle level colleges that trained on skills but along the way government saw it good to make a mad rush for universities. That was misinformed!
There is a new breed of Creative Economy. Chaps who embrace Talent and Talent Monetization alternatives to income generation over time tested idea of career in employment. What some speaker calls J. O. B. (Joining Other people’s Business)
Freelancing is the future of employment. Newer generations are getting liberal about work. We have a group of youths otherwise known as Internet Nomads who scavenge the Internet for work. It works. With deeper Internet penetration, concepts such as virtual working are taking roots.
What can we do right? rather what are we doing about it. In a YALI_Obama foundation inspired interview recently, I was asked: my answer;
That’s exactly what we are out to achieve at Bizhub. That said and done going forward, and after covering the session on “The Art of Freelancing” that happened on Friday 16th March 2018 at Highland Platinumz on Moi avenue, in the run up to the End quarter session “BIZHUB: ARTS, CULTURE AND CREATIVE” to happen at the Safaricom Michael Joseph Centre this Friday 30th March 2018. What is the conversation all about? We are delving into the industry in and out. We are looking at the backgrounds review and overview. We are discussing the industry trends. The business models. The revenue models. The overall industry SWOT aspect (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats) we are appreciating the industry forecasts and the opportunities available therein. We are helping the Creatives chat a path towards success mode. It’s like an exhaustive MBA Class. Book a seat!
“A day unemployed is like a bagel- even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good…”