Parents Could be the Solution to Ensuring More Job Opportunities for Future Generations
by Josh Adler, Vice President, Growth & Entrepreneurship at Africa Leadership Academy
There are countless stories about young people interviewing for jobs, only to hear that they need more experience for the role. But how do you get the experience if you can’t get a foot in the door in the first place?
Job-seeking in Africa is a tougher, more crowded space than ever before. Opportunities are especially slim pickings for youth entering the workforce. The damage of Covid-related travel restrictions is expected to have cost almost 4.5million jobs in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. And in South Africa specifically, Stats SA reported that the number of employed people in the country dropped by an unprecedented 2.2million in the second quarter of 2020 alone.
A continental report spanning 10 years of research suggests that a “coordinated movement” by parents, educators, and policy-makers actively leading youth to become entrepreneurs could create 1 million dignified work opportunities across Africa by 2030.
“Parents hold the key to the door of work opportunities for their children. By encouraging them to explore different options other than traditional job-seeking, parents can ensure a future career for both their own children and future generations.”
The report looks at the lessons that the Anzisha Prize Program, a partnership between African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation, has learned from a decade working with and supporting Africa’s youngest entrepreneurs.
The organization’s data, notably from before the COVID-19 pandemic, states that “young Africans today are three times more likely than the generation before them to be unemployed”. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, says Josh Adler, Vice President, Growth and Entrepreneurship at the African Leadership Academy, while there may be fewer jobs available, there has never been a better time to tap into the entrepreneurial landscape, especially now that we are seeing so much innovation coming out during the pandemic.
“Even with an excellent education, there simply aren’t enough jobs available for the youth of today. But opportunities can be created. Many successful businesses have stemmed from people turning their interests or ideas into a brand,” he explains.
CEO of Dell Technologies Michael Dell once said: “You don’t have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream.”
Adler says that it is down to the job-seeking youth of today to create their own opportunities ‒ and parents, especially, should be encouraging them to do so.
“Parents of all children, from toddlers to teenagers, should look at businesses big and small and realize that they were all sparked from a single idea once. Today’s young entrepreneurs are simply the future of the African business sector.”
One of the key findings of the report is that “a widespread parental attitude shift could be the Trojan horse that unlocks entrepreneurship as a career”. The organization chooses 20 promising young African entrepreneurs annually to become Anzisha Prize Fellows and determined that 19 of the top 20 finalists from last year’s competition had
the support of their parents.
“Parents hold the key to the door of work opportunities for their children. By encouraging them to explore different options other than traditional job-seeking, parents can ensure a future career for both their own children and future generations,” says Adler.
“Support from parents might sound like a given, but many opt to push their children towards the traditional avenue of applying for employment at other companies instead of forging ahead with their own business ventures that will, in turn, boost the economy and create more jobs.”
Children typically emulate their parents and often end up on the same, or a similar, career path. Irish national learners database Qualifax says that: “Parents influence the level of education or training that their children achieve; the knowledge they have about work and different occupations; the beliefs and attitudes they have to work; and the motivation they have to succeed. Most of this is learned unconsciously – children and teenagers absorb their parents’ attitudes and expectations of them as they grow up.”
The Anzisha Prize surveyed the parents of high-school students across Africa and found that just 24% felt equipped to support their child to explore entrepreneurial opportunities.
“Parents can demonstrate to their children, through their own behaviors and expectations, that entrepreneurship is a viable route to job security. They can actively encourage their children to grow and develop their ideas, hobbies, and interests into potential careers,” Adler adds.
He adds: “Parents of all children, from toddlers to teenagers, should look at businesses big and small and realize that they were all sparked from a single idea once. Today’s young entrepreneurs are simply the future of the African business sector.”
“Unlocking Africa’s hidden job creators: Lessons from ten years of supporting transitions from education to entrepreneurship in Africa” is freely available for download here: Anzisha.info/11Lessons
Parents can download the parenting the boss book here.