The Youth Unemployment Syndrome A friend of mine seeking employment told me a potential employer asked for five years working experience if my friend is to have any chance of getting the job. I told my friend that he should have asked the employer to give him the job so he could get the five years experience. Where should a youth who has never worked before be expected to have five years working experience as a precondition for employment in a country where jobs are few and far between? Youth in Sierra Leone trade takes like these all the time. I am from a typical developing country where jobs are hard to come by. This joblessness of youths is one of the reasons responsible for the vicious cycle of poverty in Sierra Leone. This explains that if there are not many job opportunities for youths; unemployment of youths will always be high. A lot of young adults reach the working age every year. They want to be employed so that can earn money to take care of themselves and if possible help other people, be it relatives, friends or the like. A few of these youths are lucky to gain employment, but the majority of these youths join the ever-swelling ranks of other already jobless youths. These jobless youths join other jobless people who have past the youthful age. If this particular phenomenon is prevalent, unemployment in any country unemployment, particularly youth unemployment will become entrenched. The few jobs that are available sometimes pay low salaries. Most youth prefer to go without such jobs. It beats the imagination to know that there are jobs that pay as low as below $ 40 a whole month. How can a youth live an average life on so paltry a salary? Even in instances where salaries are that high, poor condition of service is another problem militating against the taking of such jobs. Because of some of these problems associated with joblessness, some of these youth turn to other alternative sources of earning or getting money: some take to petty trading or small businesses, some to part-time jobs such as manual labour or the like, and some others resort to crime. Ours is a country that is multi-ethnic. The getting of jobs is sometimes based on ethnic or tribal and religious grounds. Regionalism, nepotism and favouritism also influence employment. The securing of jobs sometimes boils down to who knows you rather than what you know or can do. Some youths who are qualified for jobs do not get these jobs because of the tribal, regional and nepotistic divide. The square pegs in round holes syndrome is prevalent in this country. Pension and gratuity are low in Sierra Leone. People who are in employment hardly retire voluntarily even when they have long past the stipulated retirement age. It is common to see decrepit and senile people still in employment. Some of these old people will justify their staying in employment on the grounds of low pensions, gratuities or retirement benefits. How can emerging youths get into these jobs when the aged are reluctant to get out of these jobs? This may sound interesting, but this is what is happening. Corruption also leads to youth unemployment. There are many ghost-workers especially in government employment. Some ghost-workers receive different salaries from different jobs. They sit at home and go to collect unearned salaries at the end of the month whilst youths who want to sweat out their guts to do such jobs go without.
Youth unemployment is so high that even if 250,000 to 300,000 jobs are created now, it will still hardly make a dent on the current unemployment level. Some youths will tell you that it needs divine intervention to break this vicious and entrenched cycle of poverty: The authorities concerned need to do something to alleviate this chronic youth unemployment.