Writer: Kholofelo Bashele
This article could begin by listing statistics on the unemployment rate amongst the youth, although it is a highly significant issue, it would take attention away from what the real aim of this piece centers around. This plague holding back the youth of South Africa, is eventually bound to do more damage than good. It’s as if we live on, month after month, hoping a solution will arise. But where are we really looking, in terms of minimizing this mammoth task ahead of us? The Government? The private sector? The Higher education institutions? When all is said and done, the first step would be to engage with the youth themselves. Its time to expose the many reasons why it would appear so hard to even relay such simplistic yet pivotal information to our elders and superiors, whom for the longest time have believed, that we as youth are a result of their stellar shadowing. Be that as it may, at some time or another, it gets cold in the shadow, and we need to seek warmth, through the source of our own light.
We were and still are being taught so many amazing things about this South Africa. Who we are and what we aspire to be, how to step out and make a change. But more often than most, those lessons come with a shortage of what would really make a difference in our lives as a youth. If we are to be future leaders of the country, this generation should be able to voice out, in its entirety, the good and not so great, and challenge what we consider progression from our point of view, of what could make this country the best foundation for development. The truth is, when asked in a formal capacity what we believe, could help make the situation of lack of employment better, we are quick to jump in with thesaurus like words, and societal terms that have been passed around religiously amongst lecture rooms or youth conferences. When really what we should believe, is that the complexity of such an environment, is a hindrance to the freedom of expression relating to what we really want.
If we were to breakdown those barriers, release those binding fears of judgment, and really get naked with the truth, we’d see the youth just wants to be supported in what they feel to promote growth in their individual lives. We live in an era where money, fancy cars, big mansions and status are a sign of opulence. If at a certain age, you have not attained such, then you’re already pegged to not amount to anything in future. It’s that kind of thinking that allows us to find ourselves diving into the wrong avenues, seeking to be considered great, because it’s what everybody is doing and we have no further options. It’s do as they do or starve. If we could really get into what we love, what we enjoy and how we could use that to make something of ourselves, chances are opportunities would open up for all, to explore what would seem ludacris at first, but work towards solving the impending crisis. The skills are there, as youth we possess them, furthermore, development could be on the rise if we are given the chance to implement them the best way we know how.
Music, art, literature, may seem to be at the bottom of the employment pool, but half the youth are leaning towards that. Some may aspire to write more but job creation in that respect seems null and void. The lack of openness in where our interests lie, and the pressure to want to just keep up with the world as it is, is drowning the potential to create a new world within an existing one. Even with the guidance and the wisdom of the older generation, needed from time to time (because we do enter into some nonsensical things), we are not completely clueless. Some of us have been fortunate enough to be well educated in a manner which has allowed us to teach ourselves valuable lessons along the way, and accrete in addition to our various upbringings, what was necessary and what will be. And as a result, to go on to teach others who didn’t have the same opportunities, in our own way. Ways they will understand better and identify with, make choices of their own and lean on each other in spaces where only the youth are familiar with.
Mistakes will be made and things may fall apart, but the important thing is a chance was given to do things our way. Dig deep into the young minds and harness the skills being trapped by the canvas portraying what life in South Africa should be like, from the youngest, to the youth, to the eldest person. Many speak on the secret of success, but there shouldn’t even be secrets to begin with. Why are we hiding something that could be helping everyone in the long run? And the truth is eventually exposed in the end. So as a youth, why not be given the chance to start now?
Be honest about how you see your life panning out and fight towards being awarded the stage, within your own country to explore further. It will undoubtedly send a ripple effect across to many others, to be more open about who they want to be and why. The getting there could be a start the country offers, as a journey to a better youth. Transparency in the dictionary is defined as ‘a picture or an inscription made visible by a light behind it’. By being afforded an untainted platform, to be transparent about our real goals, and dreams, and passion for a better future, we the youth could be the light behind the canvas portraying a different kind of life for South Africans. Magnifying the soon to be endless possibilities of the youth, building the next generation of leaders.
This article was also published in the Skills Summit website.