Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Let's Not Create Jobs.

#TheGraduateDiaries continues...

If you haven't got the gist of what I am saying simply freshen up by reading this .
So, can the government create jobs?
Well, following a very long lecture by a Professor of Economics- the answer is "NO."

And from that talk- I can sum it up this way- say the government opened up a factory that would employ 1,000 people- that's good. But, then on the other hand a bank or institution is forced to file for bankruptcy - that means laying off a lot of employees. So- there is no clear cut and final solution to this, and also there's the fact that any politician who says they are creating jobs does so for their own benefit. If not for re-election but to keep people where they are and that's being in good terms with them.

Walter Block, has quite some stuff to say about how the market creates jobs and the government destroys them- read it -----> here

But, there's a difference- most young graduates in Kenya seek jobs. It is easy to create jobs, but not wealth. And that got me confused for a while- because Kenya is wealthy. It is rich in natural  resources and labor. We have access to free education (even though there are complaints about this system) and most of all to information. I noticed this by standing next to a newspaper vendor at Bhayani primary school- and you'd be shocked that from 7:00am to 7:30am he'd sold over fifty copies and was on his bicycle to make daily deliveries to offices and institutions within the town. I found that very interesting. And it also amazes me how everyone has a political opinion in Kenya.

So- what is it that's lacking?

Well, some may say so- but that's not the case. Jobs can be created overnight, question is can they enhance wealth creation and thus provide an economic boost to people?

I will talk of the recent bid by government and labor unions to increase the minimum wage and also offer employee protection like health insurance. This is ideally what should have been in place the first time, but it wasn't. When this came up- most families were forced to fire their house helps and instead opt for say a relative who could help around the house for a short while. Because why would you upgrade you help's pay when yours is not upgraded? And when you were hiring the help his/her pay was agreed upon based on what you earn and your expenditure to ensure their basic needs are met too. See- that's the challenge.

Youth unemployment in Africa is a growing concern. Based on CNN's #Tbd show the rate of unemployment is increasing in most parts of the world with countries like Italy at a rate of 40% and in France- most graduates migrate to the Sillicon valley in the U.S to work. There are platforms by the World Bank like jobs for Africa where people can share their ideas and stories on employment and how to enhance economic growth in Africa.

So, how about we face the fact that we have to create wealth- and in so doing will create room for jobs.

I am talking of not just taking short term projects like "kazi kwa vijana" which was a total sham- but rather allowing the young people to use their skills and explore their talents.

And to do this we need to focus more on grants, setting up youth resource centers and most of all not schooling children but teaching them. Education should not be about rote learning where children cram answers to pass exams, but rather are able to apply what they learn in class to their day to day lives.

Most young graduates have bills to pay (loans, their upkeep, they want to buy stuff) and so see the money in jobs. They look at the end result not the process and that also makes job hunting quite frustrating. A friend calls it using "the sprinkler method." This is where upon graduation you apply for any job, you just send your CVs everywhere and hope one of them calls you. I told her this has one flaw- most people who do this send the same CV. They forget to edit their CV to suit the job they are applying for, hence 90% of those get no feedback.

So, what does this mean?
It means that Kenya is still far from creating the ideal set up for immediate graduate employment- but this should not mean that as young people you cannot seek further education, internship, volunteer opportunities, small-scale jobs, or apply for grants to start up ventures that you believe are needed in your community.
How can one change the world if one identifies oneself with everybody?