“The time to invest in the youth is now,” declares a young entrepreneur during an ESEPARC seminar on “Rethinking our Regular 8-5” held at the Mbabane Theatre Club, December 2019. “Eswatini’s youth are not the future but the present” he emphasised, calling upon policymakers to start viewing Eswatini’s youth as capable economic agents that can contribute to social and economic development in the present.The point is that policymakers tend to think of the youth as a generation that will only contribute to social and economic development in the future against the reality that a majority of the country’s population comprises of the youth. Therefore, the youth have to be considered and engaged in all the development strategies deployed to revive the economy.
All over the world, young people are considered the drivers of industrial development because of their ingenuity, and labour market potential to increase production and productivity. However, the general state of Eswatini’s youth is that they are either ignored, unemployed, or underutilised robbing the country its true gross domestic production (GDP) potential.
The purpose of the seminar was to discuss how the youth can reimagine their time between 8AM – 5PM so that they too can start engaging in meaningful and productive economic activities that can put them at the forefront of the development agenda in Eswatini.
RETHINKING YOUR REGULAR 8-5
To ensure that everyone is engaged in productive economic activities in Eswatini, particularly the youth, it requires a rethinking of our perception of the regular 8AM to 5PM. The mind-set change that needs to sink among Eswatini’s youth is that the private sector is simply not big enough to afford every liSwati a cushy 8-5 job from which they can earn a decent standard of living. The limited employment opportunities require a majority of the unemployed to look into self-employment to earn their keep. However, a majority of us are genuinely petrified by the idea of turning into business as a primary source of our livelihood. In the limited cases that we do decide to start a business, we often do it in distress with one leg in and the other out while at the back of our minds we keep the hope that someday we will get hired and earn a steady paycheck. The reality is that the youth, particularly unemployed university graduates need to rethink their 8AM – 5PM and start looking for business opportunities instead of waiting in limbo hoping to be hired by someone. The seminar emphasised the potential for young people to change their today, by taking charge of every minute, and every hour of their day to reshape and reignite their potential.