It is no secret we are suffering from high unemployment. The PF first came with a promise of 1 million new jobs and now just this month they have come with the promise of 500,000 new jobs without any evidence they have delivered on the first promise. It is not surprising that such statements from politicians have come to mean very little. Rather than committing to a number let us commit to an approach.
Government must do two things as a priority.
Firstly, we have all heard of cases where despite there being a job vacancy or contracting opportunity those looking for employment or contracts do not have the required skills. We need to match our education and training initiatives to the jobs and opportunities available. Government can only do this by regularly consulting with industry and education professionals to spot the opportunities and then acting decisively. So for example if we see there are more investments made in developing hotels then we should increase training opportunities in hospitality and related services such as catering.
Look at how Rwanda is managing its economy and achieving growth rates of 7% and more
Secondly, Government must support and empower budding entrepreneurs. By developing the relevant skills in our youths we can create a positive knock-on effect. For example, if we provide training opportunities and support to 5 aspiring entrepreneurs then each may go on to start businesses that employ 5 more people and then we have 30 people in jobs as a result of that first bit of support. I would like to see these investments targeted at youths who will help us develop our value-addition industries because this is an area where the knock-on benefit will be considerable both in terms of job creation and supporting the Kwacha.
We do not need to re-invent the wheel here but look at what our brothers and sisters have done elsewhere. For example, look at how Rwanda is managing its economy and achieving growth rates of 7% and more. They do not have our rich mineral resources but they are investing in their people to drive growth. While our resources are limited, these interventions do not need to be expensive if they are well targeted. Consultation is free, prioritisation will help us target available funds at areas with biggest impact, and there is a great deal to be gained from support in terms of knowledge transfer and information sharing, which are low cost interventions. They just require vision and good planning skills.
By Hakainde Hichilema