What does a bright future for our young people mean ?
What is in store for the new graduates who have spent the big bucks on attaining education , or gone to extremes and are in debt for the so called "needed" education background? I won't mention any names, but some of us are already running at a negative balance when we graduate. I know very well how far me and my peers went to attain "a good education." Despite the grants and scholarships, this good education does put a financial weight on the family. But then the question comes: What awaits young people from all over the world when our educational systems, the industries and the globe at large is changing so rapidly.
No matter who you are: your origin will affect what awaits you. As an African with a Zimbabwean passport, this has made an impact on many attempted journeys across the world. Some say there are no boundaries but yes there is a thin line between you taking charge to be wherever you want to be and that unexpected restriction you will face that can potentially ruin your dream to be a globe trotter. Speaking about education; your educational background has an impact on your future, the system you were induced to, your network ties which are affected by your geographical reach ALL have a force they exert on your journey of life. The opportunities that met you, the chances you got, your family history and your pocket (oh yes!) These ALL affect the individual you are today. Yet the big highlight today is our "education" and its impact.
When you hear 5.1 percent unemployment at first glance that figure most of the times has very little meaning in your life until it strikes you that you could be part of that 5.1 percent. That is scary! But what is more scary is our educational systems and our impact on the system and the statistics we make. Statistics is a realm that keeps evolving, improving and yet we rely so much on figures. I believe figures start having meaning when you are part of the percent involved. For us as youth fighting the battle to get a good education it has become very important to us to be able to make valid judgments about our future based on employment rates, salary averages, growing industries and tertiary education price ranges. Yet these things are validated by statistical data that we make; like any other science: statistics is an evolving sphere, affected by the humans who make it! So maybe it is that time that we as young graduates start shaping the statistics we want to hear! For that statistic to change should the job market change or should the education system evolve?
I believe that we as young people have the power to shift the economics of things that affect us. After having a heated discussion about how easily we young people fall prey to the job market, we couldn't help but wonder why we went through so much pain to be educated and in the end be scared about what awaits you because of the same education. When no jobs arise, most turn to alternative measures yet education was not an alternative or was it? Perhaps this thought stemmed from the idea we have shaped of the reason for education. We learn so that we can work and get income. Infact we have stopped learning and are simply being educated to make it in life and be "successful." Why did we get educated and what does it mean to be successful? Has our reason to get educated become irrational and thus not stable. Does our educational system allow us to acquire the pedigree of intellects, scientists, doctors, engineers, teachers, etc. who have a genuine voice and are able to be the future and lead the vision for a better world?
In the end what we have is desperate graduates trying to make it in life, pressured to qualify in the "made it" section. We have over a million young people jumping at every job with any salary even if they hate the job. As young people, it has become harder to acquire a genuine voice for ourselves. We are forced to accept every offer on the market even if it does not resemble what we got "educated" for. And we have been forced to accept this as "luck" and as the reality of the job market.
In Ivory Coast I was surprised by the average salary and the employment levels of people who have spend years getting educated in their home country, in fact expats just kill it for them. No wonder the standard of life and the gap between the poor and rich is widening! Imagine how discouraging it is to study (let alone in one's home country) for all your life only to be underpaid "if lucky." Or if unlucky to just end up in the no job category. I wondered what would happen if the young people simply stopped accepting some of these ridiculous jobs or if we stopped getting educated to get jobs. I was beaten with: "we can't do that, I am already so lucky to have a job, come on!"
But we must change the statistics and defintions! We must redefine the purpose of education today and the significance of the industries to the young people. We must sweat for things worthwhile. Our education should become sustainable and aim to create authentic individuals, intellectuals and leaders who have voice of their own and a mind that not only thinks but also has the capacity for lifelong learning. We must stop the educational systems that have become factories for underpaid and jobless graduates who have no voice of their own. Perhaps it is not just the students who need to be tailored for the job market, it is the job market that needs to visit the tailor to fit this new generation of educated graduates?
On the other hand at the end of the day: everyone wants to sweat it out for something worthwhile! Everyone wants to afford a good standard of living while having a good job they love, contribute to and deserve! And for this to happen we young people have to stir the environments we live in positively, we do not have to just demand but we are also obliged to be part of shaping good educational systems, job markets and environments. We have to find the courage within ourselves to not just challenge the systems but to also accept our own flaws and contributions to our own futures as the young generation! We have to take action and accept responsibility for our own future. What do you think?