By Dr Martin Mushumba –
It is not a nice feeling to be jobless.
Not only to the affected individual but also to the rest of society that is missing out on what that individual can offer.
The state of joblessness is depressing, especially that no one chooses to be jobless.
Seeing our brothers and sisters fighting to get a job is one thing that gives us an opportunity to realise that those who have jobs are blessed.
We are not special at all.
Some of the people who are jobless have better qualifications than us.
To an individual, joblessness diminishes self esteem.
It erodes self confidence as one is stressed into thinking about why they going through that situation.
Sometimes one questions their education or the value of their qualifications.
For societies like ours, the people who are jobless are even manipulated by unscrupulous individuals who promise them job connections or compelled to believe that they need traditional cleansing from bad luck.
As a result, joblessness can be mental torture because it pits one into hoping for a better tomorrow and stresses them as each day passes without a successful story.
It bleeds desperation and loss of self-confidence as the affected individuals begin to settle for anything.
To some individuals, desperation increases with time as they stress about growing old without a job.
This hits differently when the affected individual has a family.
The pain of being unable to provide for one’s family can be so stressful.
Unemployment bothers the government too.
Government needs money to provide for schools, hospitals, roads and other essentials for its people.
The more economically empowered the people are, the wealthier the government.
The more jobs created for the people, the bigger the tax base for the government.
More jobs for the people mean reduced dependency ratio and economically empowered families.
Unemployed citizens represent skills and energy which the society is not utilising.
In light of this, the United Party for National Development government has, from inception, been driven with the desire to increase employment opportunities for the citizens.
President Hakainde Hichilema has emphasised that he would not rest until the economy was able to absorb two thirds of the people who are ready to work and are regarded to be on the labour market.
The government sees the civil service and the local government as a starting point.
In slightly over a year, the government has created over 70,000 civil service jobs.
This has also been followed by over 3,000 local government jobs.
Defence and security wings have also been opened up to create about15, 000 jobs.
The government has also led the private sector into manufacturing as it embarks on a journey towards industrialisation.
In this regard, the government has commissioned fruit processing plants in Ikeleng’i and Chipata districts, creating about 6,000 direct jobs in the process.
The electric vehicle battery industry is also projected to create over 10,000 direct jobs.
Government support to cooperatives and small and medium enterprises has created over 40,000 jobs across the country, with over 30,000 jobs coming through Constituency Development Fund support.
As if this were not enough, the government has engaged the private sector to reform and create employment opportunities for the youth.
Further, the government, through the support of the United Nations country team, has come up with the internship, apprenticeship, volunteer and graduate programme (IAVG) in order to find solutions to youth unemployment.
Under IAVG, 2,000 jobs are available in the first phase.
These are jobs for youths from all walks of life, including those without qualifications.
The Government’s effort towards providing employment opportunities for everyone needs commendation and support.
This is because nothing gives more pride to the country than satisfied citizens with viable economic opportunities.
The creation of job opportunities restores pride to the youth and everyone in the country.
The author is public and economic policy analyst