As the demography of the world changes sharply towards a younger workforce, one of the foremost challenges worldwide and more specifically in Africa, is attracting, engaging and retaining young talent.
The continent has one of the best demographic dividends among the leading economies in the world.
These range from art, music, acrobats, and sports.
Today, the continent is represented in top-notch world competitions; soccer leagues, boxing, riding and many more. Our great sportsmen/women have always ensured a point is driven home-that Africa has the potential.
Talent is the innate skill or capability of handling particular or different activities and everyone is talented in one way or the other. It is extremely important that we identify and nurture it from the very beginning the same way we would pursue a career through a formal education system.
The role of parents in particular is very important in talent development. Their role is significant in providing an array of support as well as opportunities across a variety of environments.
This ranges from the school, home with family, and in other community based settings, which target these initiatives across ages and key transitions from early childhood to middle school to adolescence and to early adulthood.
Schools should and in fact must also cease using limited definition of intelligence that does not account for the different ways that children show their abilities, and shun exclusions when some learners have difficulty in showing their talents at all. Identifying a child’s talent is extremely crucial, and so is nurturing it.
We have exceptionally gifted children who have fallen by the way on account of not fitting within the normal school system. So how many potential innovators and geniuses have we lost?
The process is important at a young age because at this time, a child is like a lump of wet clay that can be moulded to create a masterpiece. The right guidance can help them excel in their talents and imbibe facets of it as part of his or her personality.
A well natured talent goes along with career choice, the two combined gives a requisite professional being able to perform and meet the expectations of any organization from the date of employment.
However, availability of the ‘right talent’ is still a major challenge, not all graduates joining the workforce will come equipped with the right skills and work attitude. It is an unfortunate reality that only a few of the over many students graduating through our Education system every year are considered employable.
This scenario is always a product of talent not blended with the right career. At times our young people find themselves between the rock of what they are pushed to study and what they feel suits theme most. Such pressure must be eased and alternative methods of guidance provided to produce a generation ready to serve with generosity.
Kigali, like many of other cities anchor very fast growing industries which lead to new talent absorption platforms that attract large numbers of younger talent. Some of these new industries-Renewable Energy, Life Sciences, Social Infrastructure, Sports Media and Entertainment, are very attractive to the brightest young talent due to the uniqueness of the opportunities that they present.
The young talents come packed with ideas, energy and enthusiasm. They have very high expectations and require guidance to achieve their potential to the fullest.
While they would look up to any leader who possesses experience and expertise, the leaders who really understand their dynamics are the ones that would embrace these young talents and allow them the right mix of autonomy and mentoring.
Obviously, it does not hurt if the Leader has an open mind to learn from the young Turks as well. The adage ‘people leave bosses’ is extremely amplified in this age group and employers have to be really careful in assigning the right type of leaders for the young talent to thrive.
It is recognized that engagement with the arts and creativity has huge benefits for individuals and society that cross many national agenda. It provides the framework to celebrate and further support the significant contribution of young people’s personal development, their well-being, their health, community and the economy.
Rwanda has been on the ‘landmark years’ of growth for Corporates in the last few years, and riding the wave of the country becoming a global economy based on Knowledge and Innovation.
To double this tremendous progress, we need to beef efforts on the need to focus on young talent and thereby capitalize this inspiring demographic dividend that we are blessed with.
Finally, as one American writer and futurist, Alvin Toffler once said “The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they - at some distant point in the future - will take over the reigns. Yet the fact is that the society is not running itself nicely... because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties.
For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.”
The writer is a consultant and visiting lecturer at the RDF Senior Command and Staff College, Nyakinama.