We’ve always been told and made to understand that education is the key to our career success. Finish school, enrol in university, earn your degree, and enter the job market ready to impart your newly learned skills and knowledge. In more recent years, the model may have slightly changed and people can take different routes to achieve career success, but the premise is still pretty much intact.
Similarly, there seems to be a common thought trend that the more education one partakes in, the more productive they will be for the workforce. It’s not uncommon or out of the ordinary to cling to a thought like this; after all, the assumption is that the more you have studied and learned, the better you will be in whatever job you are working in.
This emphasis on ‘education above all else’ rhetoric also desperately requires a change in direction given that we are still following an industrial-era created syllabus that makes no provision for the establishments of the modern-day life. To put it simply, things have changed in a very drastic way and the education system has stayed exactly the same. How then, does one expect the products of this education system to turn out any differently to what they are currently doing?
Think about how concepts like computers, robotics and even artificial intelligence play into our daily lives compared to 50+ years ago. We cannot expect our youth to think differently and turn out differently if we are not affording them a different means, set up and framework of education adapted to the modern lifestyle we are living in. Or else, we could very well see robots taking over roles and jobs that humans have always been able to do. Actually, we have already seen it happening since the last decade.
And where does this leave our youth?
Graduates are completing their studies and then falling into a limbo period of uncertainty because either they are unable to find appropriate work aligned with their studies – organisations are not interested in employing inexperienced candidates – or there is simply no work to be found. Desperate and confused, this gap is formed illustrating a problem in the employability of these educated young adults.
They themselves often fall for this grand illusion that their university degree equals an earned position in a top company simply because they did their ‘time’ studying and now need to have someone validate that effort. On the other hand, we see young people without university degrees and diplomas who are also greatly affected by unemployment. Their blocks include not being educated enough or not having the right skills and knowledge.
If you know YUVA, you will know that this is one of the things we believe in and feel compelled to address. If for anything else, because the youth of today are going to need to step into their roles of society’s leaders in the future. But while we spend a lot of our time fighting for this cause, there is another completely different point of view we are not addressing.
I’m talking about the group of people out there who claim to be jobseekers.
Claim to be jobseekers? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Especially in a country where such stark differences exist between lower, middle and upper-class households. There isn’t a day that passes where we, at YUVA, aren’t contacted about someone desperate for any kind of work. It’s why we created an online employment portal, and we update it weekly with vacancies we find around the island.
And don’t get me wrong, there are people out there genuinely searching for work in order to survive, feed their family, pursue the thought of a better life or escape the vicious cycle of poverty. But I’m not talking about those people now. I’m talking about the people who claim to be looking for work only to evade it at all costs.
What about the other side of the story?
The side that sees companies spending a large amount of time and probably resources creating job openings for people who may not have the highest form of education they would have wanted to have. The side of the story that sees organisations looking past the standard requirements for the work and instead implements in-house training programmes to equip candidates with the right skills to be able to perform the work. The side of the story that sees opportunities being created and offered to all who are willing, every single day.
After all, experience is a very strong contender that can sometimes trump how educated you are.
Few people are prepared to address a serious problem facing job seekers, specifically among young people in Mauritius – their attitude.
One assumes that when someone is searching so badly for some kind of work, that the first, secure sign of work you land will get your utmost attention and effort. And yet, there are so many people who go to the effort applying for jobs, attend interviews only to abscond when it comes time to commence the work.
That’s if they even attend the interview. Or, at the very least, attend it on time and dressed appropriately for the said work environment. Some will go as far as taking part in the entire process from interview to being hired only to drop off the face of the earth on the day they are meant to start working.
What employers tend to think after experiencing this on many occasions is that people are not in need of employment as they claim. Or, at the very least, are not serious about it at all. What would you think if you kept getting the same excuses like “I forgot” or “I was about to call you…”?
Perhaps this sounds harsh. However, this is what appears to be the reality in the job market, every single day. A portion of people is creating a very tarnished image of the youth and its effects can be seen when companies stop taking on fresh graduates or people under a certain age.
I’ve even spoken to groups of young people. I’ve asked them how they feel about what the Government is doing when it comes to their policy around the workforce. I’ve heard them tell me that they do not agree with it (at all). I’ve heard them also tell me that if they were offered the chance to work in a government position of any kind, they would take it without hesitation. As contradicting as one may think it appears, there is also the second part of that viewpoint. The part that sees people rushing to these kinds of jobs because
- the hours are great,
- the job is perceived as ‘easy’, and
- it’s a secure gig with benefits (in most cases).
If these are the expectations young people have when it comes to finding work, then it is understandable to see why so many people are still out there looking for jobs that meet these standards. Take a look in any newspaper, on any job recruitment site or even on Facebook or LinkedIn and you will find companies in no short supply who have vacancies. Are we living in a country where (mainly) young people have adopted unrealistic expectations around work?
In the day and age of instant gratification and ‘I need it right now’, are we fostering a portion of society that does not understand the value of working hard?
And by working hard, let’s be clear by what I mean. Going after your dreams, putting in the time to gain the reward, not giving up and being persistent even when things are not going according to the way they should be.
Maybe the change that needs to come about is not that we need to create even more jobs but we need to start changing the perception that young people have around the idea of work and achieving their career goals. That instead of them seeing work as something they need to do in the easiest and quickest way possible, they instead find their passion and approach the entire thing differently.
And I think, this comes back to education.
Educating the youth to think differently, see the bigger picture and breaking the unspoken rule that the youth is good for nothing more than going to school for the required time only to work for someone else. So, perhaps instead of blaming the youth for their lack of interest in wanting to work, we should instead educate them more appropriately to become employable and provide platforms for them to want to think out of the box and strive to achieve their goals.
Maybe, we as a society of all creeds and cultures need to do better for the people meant to be following in our footsteps. For the people who are tomorrow’s leaders.
By Krishna Athal
YUVA Executive Director