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Why youths should think outside the box

Is there really a lack of jobs and what to do or are we simply dealing with youths’ inability to think creatively, outside the box?…

Is there really a lack of jobs and what to do or are we simply dealing with youths’ inability to think creatively, outside the box?

I cannot deny the fact that in Nigeria, there is a high unemployment rate. As at the last quarter of 2020, a year ravaged by the uncertainty of COVID 19, the National Bureau of Statistics, revealed that there was a total of 21.7 million people equivalent to 27.1 per cent that were unemployed. While there were 28.6 per cent that were underemployed. By the first quarter of the year 2021, youth unemployment was pegged at 33.3 per cent.

As bad as the Nigerian space is when it comes to earning an income, particularly resulting from bad government policies, outdated Nigerian school curriculum that have failed to address world contemporary issues, and government refusal to educate and fund young persons to succeed in businesses, I have often wondered if the problem with our youths is also the lack of inability to think creatively or out of the box?

I will focus on Nigerian graduates. For many undergrads, there was a time when they used to think that once out of school, there will be jobs waiting for them or the probability of securing a high paid job.

After graduation and the service year, the difficulty in securing jobs has changed the perception of many youths and many have gone beyond their acquired certificates to empower themselves by learning a skill or more. Some have even become employers of labour at their young ages.

However, there are a huge number of educated youths that are still wallowing in the euphoric assumption that someday a well paid government job will come their way.

Some still believe that a white-collar job is the only thing they can do as such, they waste many years waiting for that Messianic miracle.

For some, it is the belief that their degrees or masters or even PhD certificates has placed them on a high pedestal as such taking up some unattractive jobs or skills is totally not for them.

For these reasons, many have been unable to make any meaningful progress in their lives. Their acquired certificate has refused to allow them to leave their high-horsed comfort zones to explore.

In my years of experience with the world of struggle, I have discovered that good money lies in the most unattractive jobs. It lies in those seemingly “shameful” occupations.

Many graduates, find some jobs below their standards and for that reason, have passed many opportunities on making a living out of the oldest below standard paths.

What they fail to understand is that many have etched a success story from those ‘unpalatable” “unattractive” “shameful” paths.

Many are even without proper formal education.

Although, I have also seen wise graduates, who didn’t allow their “kwali” get into their heads and have gone down the dirt lane covered in sweat and made a life from there.

I have seen these people fry snacks at business junctions.

I have seen some sell fruits and with their advantage of having an education, have added some innovations and flavour to it to make fresh fruit juice in hygienic attractive ways.

I have seen persons who with just an umbrella, started to roast fish and now have a joint for sit-outs.

Others simply make simple traditional meals and deliver to people at home and offices. The COVID period, pushed many persons to discover that they actually had talents they knew nothing about.

Some have taken up and invested in the laundry business, while  others have taken up food packaging and delivery. Some just depend on henna designing or face painting and many other life changing crafts.

The examples are simply out there and too numerous to mention.

When I newly moved to Kaduna many years ago, I would take a bike and go to the markets just to explore.

There I met many persons because at some point or the other, we got engaged in one business or the other.

They are shop owners selling undies, cosmetics, second hand items and so on, who had very small shops to manage back then.

Fourteen years down the lane, many of them are now millionaires. They have built and sustained the “low” businesses and have created empires that many graduates would in the past not even consider.

Even though the business environment is harsh, yet, many businesses have sprung up from creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Some businesses were a game of chance, some were deliberate moves at solving problems in their immediate environments, and boom, the rest as they say is history.

Any supposed sophisticated path of income earning that cannot pay most of your bills is actually the unattractive, unpalatable and the shameful business path and not the other way round.

So, forget the value of that certificate and think intensely and creatively.

There are many opportunities in places where it seems impossible.

Just think outside the box in solving problems.

Maryam Hamza, Ph.D

Dept of History and War Studies

Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna

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