By: Abubakarr Tarawally(Intern)
Youth are assets that no serious country can afford to squander because they are the future of any country just like Sierra Leone. Chinua Achebe asked the question: “Where are the young suckers that will grow when the old Banana trees die?” This profound quote emphasises the significance of the younger generation, as they possess the vitality, skills, and aspirations necessary for the development and prosperity of any nation.
As the world commemorates International Youth Day, various countries convey distinct messages and hope for their youth. Regrettably, in Sierra Leone, the government message remains unclear. However, certain international organizations within Sierra Leone did celebrate the day. Notably, the United Nations in Sierra Leone chose “Green Skills for Youth towards a Sustainable World” as their theme, emphasising the pivotal role that the youth play in shaping the present future of Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, it has become clear that youth are no longer the leaders of tomorrow, but they are the architect of change.
Critically and assuredly, the question has been how can youth fulfill their potentials as future leaders amidst prevalent challenges such as unemployment, illiteracy, lack of skills, absence of decision-making position, drug addiction, and their views being disregarded? Becoming what many of the world think they are future leaders, in an interim where most youths are unemployed, illiterate, unskilled, are not in decision-making positions, are drug addicts, and their views are not considered. This compounding and the deeply rooted problem has worsened the situation, casting doubt on whether the country possess any future leaders with almost 78% of youths future doom.
Perhaps this is why they are less considered. Nevertheless, even before addressing this issue, it’s clear that not all youth are into drug abuse. In Sierra Leone there exist sober-minded youth, who can be drivers of economic growth, facilitate social progress and innovation, and are committed to ensuring their voices are heard, their rights protected and their needs addressed.
Unimaginably with not much as a nation at 62 to celebrate, many are of the view that investing in young people’s education, health, employment opportunities, and participation in decision making process is not just a moral imperative ; rather, it is strategic investment in the future of Sierra Leone. There should be provision where youth can access quality education and acquire the skills they need to compete in a rapidly changing global economy. It’s on that basis that fostering an inclusive and preparatory society requires a very systematic approach to bring youth as partners in development process. Youth have fresh energy, perspective and innovative Ideas that can address complex challenges that has be fallen this nation.
Before the 2023 elections drew to a close, the Institute for Government Reforms (IGR) in Sierra Leone, had drafted a document, in which a portion of that document aims for fifty percent(50%) youth employment by any party that emerges victorious in the June 2023 election. In case you are wondering, youth unemployment in Sierra Leone is a critical issue that has bitten deep. The youth belongs to the demographic that has been left behind. Today, youth are struggling to secure employment and established themselves professionally, given the rapid changes, especially with the advancement of technology and the rise of globalization, which has made traditional jobs very hard to find. Youth have been sobbed in drug abuse with the issue of Kush consumption at it zenith, with an alarming rate calming the lives of 100s of Youth, who are clamoring to be future leaders of Sierra Leone. Sympathizers have been swimming in tears about the doom future of youth.
According to the International Labour Organization (IL O), individual aged 15-24 currently account for almost forty percent (40%) of the world’s unemployed population. However, the situation is even more challenging for youths in developing countries like Sierra Leone, where youth unemployment has taken a tool order, and the Job market is nothing positive to write home about. Interestingly, many attributed that lack of skills, creativity, and love for what they do. Clearly the world is moving toward the digital age or the world is at the middle of the digital revolution. Surely, although numerous students have been graduating from Universities, Colleges, Polytechnic, and other Technical centers but they often lack practical experience. So, they are unable deliver to society’s expectation.
Furthermore, but most importantly, political, regional, and tribal sentiment in Sierra Leone has eaten deeply into our body polity, for a person to be employed, those at the helm would have to check the person’s political affiliation before they can be considered. Tribalism and regionalism cannot take us anywhere. Let the right person be given the job regardless their afflictions because they are all Sierra Leoneans As long as youth unemployment , illiteracy, lack of skills and other factors are being looked at from those lenses, it will be a very long and hard fight to win over, youth and their challenges’ employment issues in Sierra Leone. Our leaders must help fight against political jingoism and put the development of the country first.
To harness the potentials of youth, government needs to address the obstacles that youth encounter, such as unemployment, poverty, gender inequality and lack of access to quality education and health care, to promote entrepreneurship. Youth are also encouraged to pool their knowledge and effort through cooperation to boost their participation in the social and economic development of Sierra Leone. For Youth challenged with drug and alcohol abuse, the government can fix that by investing in Vocational training centers like Carpentry, Plumbing, Tailoring, and a lot more. Subsequently, those empowered youths can turn into meaningful and useful Citizens hence they cannot be misused by politicians.
In combating challenges befallen youth, without discrimination, the issue of Youth Unemployment can be curbed, especially if attention is paid to practical experience and internship practice, put to good use, the issue. The youth will represent Sierra Leone tomorrow; therefore, they need to be employed.