Updated: Dec 1, 2022
Being 15 and quite obviously unemployed, my biggest fear is to grow up to be one of those people living in their parents’ basement. However irrational you might find my fear, my anxiety is quite well backed. Today’s society is teeming with people in their 20s actively looking for jobs, but not being able to find one, no matter how qualified or overqualified they are. Why? Because companies would rather hire older people with more experience than younger people, with less than 2 years of experience to get that entry level job fresh out of university.
Youth unemployment isn’t a trend, it’s a long-term issue that could destroy our economy more than it already has and ruin the careers of the youth for the next couple of generations.
Youth unemployment might not have been the “hot goss” or the most talked about topic, but it’s been expanding itself throughout the past 2 decades, fluctuating between 20% and 28%. Ever since Mr. Covid-19 visited us, youth unemployment rates have skyrocketed. In a developing country like Sri Lanka, not everyone has the access to good educational facilities, thereby making majority of its youth vulnerable to unemployment.
Hysteresis is the idea that past employment trends have a tendency of causing the current unemployment trends. Having watched my older cousins not get the jobs they aimed for, I know that they get demotivated and companies too are unwilling to hire them due to a lack of past job employment. This just shows us that youth unemployment affects you throughout your career and not only in the beginning.
Essentially, there are 3 factors that affect the youth’s vulnerability to unemployment. The geographical location of those unemployed, poor transportation facilities and high transportation cost as well as discrimination of the employee’s ethnicity or tribe. Sri Lanka has done much to overcome these challenges. The government has tried to build infrastructure around the island, keep public transportation costs at a minimum and (attempted to) build harmony within the races and religions in the country. However, youth unemployment is still at its peak. So what more can we do?
For one, as a student, I can vouch that school curriculums tend to focus on and nurture job seekers rather than job creators, lessening the entrepreneurship rates. We could introduce entrepreneurship education to school curriculums along with technical and vocational skill development programmes to increase this percentage and increase our potential to meet our basic needs, improve our standard of living and teach younger generations to use locally available resources efficiently.
Public- Private Partnerships can create new industries and employment opportunities, thereby diversifying economic activities and minimizing youth unemployment.
The Sri Lankan government hadn’t done much against this issue until last year when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa introduced a few strategies through his manifesto. Due to the ongoing pandemic, these strategies weren’t implemented. However, he gave 100,000 jobs in the government sector to deserving families and more to unemployed graduates.
Youth unemployment isn’t a trend, it’s a long-term issue that could destroy our economy more than it already has and ruin the careers of the youth for the next couple of generations. So encourage job creators, demand government funding for entrepreneurship and start-up companies, motivate jobs seekers and facilities should be provided to for students to develop soft skills and widen your range of assets that will help you contribute positively to this economy.