Time to deal with rising unemployment

HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe this week made stunning revelations that close to 3 000 workers lost their source of revenue in the nine months to September this year.

What this means is that the country’s already high and unsustainable unemployment rate — estimated above 90 percent — is expected to skyrocket further as more workers were retrenched in the last quarter of 2016 due to worsening economic situation.

This is a time bomb in our midst as most of the unemployed usually turn to immoral and illegal ways of earning income, with some resorting to substances abuse, the consequences of which include addiction, suicide and mental health problems

It’s critical to quickly solve the unemployment crisis.

But this requires new political leadership and strategies to halt the country’s deepening economic catastrophe.

As Albert Einstein rightly said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” It’s time to embrace new subterfuges.

Education reform should be a priority. At university level, block release courses potentially enable students to better align their programmes with their interests and circumstances.

They provide welcome competition to established institutions — let’s support them. A do-it-yourself approach to study is both increasingly possible and often necessary. Indeed, many of the best coders are self-taught.

We should drop the snobbery. Real-world experience such as travel or volunteering can yield greater benefits than the narrow, rigid and costly undergraduate degree to which we mistakenly still attach totemic significance.

The school curriculum, too, needs to offer courses with real business value to help school leavers find work. It is hardly “dumbing down” if it engages pupils and better equips them for adulthood.

Employers have a far greater role to play too in reducing unemployment. Instead of complaining that new recruits arrive ill-prepared, companies should connect with them earlier by providing mentors and apprenticeships, building on the concept of the “talent incubator”.

It will improve their business and give young people a sense of responsibility and purpose – not to mention more routes into the workplace.

The government should remove barriers to job creation. Our current environment does not promote increased job creation due to an array of taxes that make it difficult for new ventures to flourish.

We should also look again at well-intentioned labour laws that protect incumbent workers but often hinder businesses from responding to change and hiring new talent

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