A generation with fewer prospects

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) released  a report early this week revealing that about 50 million workers will likely be out of jobs this year. It reveals that there is going to be a rise of 6.1% and 7.1 % unemployment compared to 5.7 percent in 2007.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) released  a report early this week revealing that about 50 million workers will likely be out of jobs this year. It reveals that there is going to be a rise of 6.1% and 7.1 % unemployment compared to 5.7 percent in 2007.

The financial crisis is seen as responsible for this increase in unemployment in developed countries. Many in these countries have lost their jobs because of layoffs by companies and other employers.

According to the report, aftershocks will be felt in developing countries as a result of the financial crisis in the developed world. So the rate of unemployment in developing countries and specifically Africa will shoot up.

Analysts have stated that whereas there are safety nets for the unemployed in the developed world, in developing countries especially African countries, people can not afford to be unemployed.

Low incomes among the rich create a situation where they adjust their budgets. They can forego a new car or any other luxury. But for the poor, it is said that they adjust their patterns of life.

This whole issue of unemployment especially for the young people is something that is a daily worry in most of Africa especially for the generation that was born in the late seventies and early eighties.

These are the young, ambitious people who have just left school with a lot of excitement and hopes for the future. Many who were high achievers in school get out of school only to realize that their good grades and high scores in class may not necessarily assure them of success on the job market.

To the chagrin of many, it becomes immediately apparent that it is not your degree or prestige of the institution you went to that will assure you of good employment, but you will need more than that.

Those who are well connected in most cases finish first while the not so well connected finish last in the hunt for good employment. 

This has been a tragedy for this generation. Save for few companies like the firms Price Water House Coopers or Ernst and Young, to mention but two, that go to universities every end of the academic year to recruit on the basis of merit, others will do recruitment using less clear methodologies.

There is always talk in the job seeking youths on the streets in some of the East African countries that some companies advertise when they have already got people to fix in the positions. And when it comes to the public service, then it gets worse.

This situation is a far cry from what obtained in the seventies and eighties when graduates were always spoiled for choice. Anyone who made it to the traditional university system in most of Africa was always assured of a bright future.

It never mattered whether you were the first in your clan to set foot in the capital city where most big Universities are located.

You did not need to be well connected to get decent employment. That was mainly because there were enough jobs to absorb the few graduates.

There were few educated people up to University level because the traditional University system was controlled by the state. There was no liberalization of the sector and one needed a government scholarship to go to the University.

In our times, many who saw no prospects in the dwindling labour market would target going abroad to get employment. But with the economies in the West in freefall, this is no longer as attractive.

Some who are there are already contemplating returning home. As one analyst said, it will get worse before it gets better. But all this aside, more continue to get out of school on to the labour market.

Rwanda is one country which still has a skills gap in the labour market. It remains one of the few countries where getting decent employment is not so difficult if one is determined. This is probably because of the gap in skills and maybe the zero tolerance for corruption in the country.

Contact: frank2kagabo@yahoo.com

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