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"Self-reliance and innovation can pave the way for our youth"
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"Self-reliance and innovation can pave the way for our youth"

The rules of the economy have changed, with a steady loss of jobs across many sectors and severe consequences for youth and the unemployed. Tamica Parchment, 24,  a Commonwealth Correspondent from Kingston, Jamaica, reports on the challenges her generation now faces.

In the December 2011 general elections in Jamaica, the People’s National Party (PNP) won with a landslide victory – 42 seats to the opposition’s 21. The PNP promised, with much fervour, to bring honesty to the Jamaican political landscape and to tackle our most pressing issue, the economy.

Predictably, the euphoria has faded, and the reality of a possible economic crisis is looming. Jamaica has a serious debt problem that is not supported by wealth creation. In addition, there is a very high rate of unemployment, especially among young males.

To appease this employment issue, the PNP promised that they would launch a programme called the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme, a measure to “create meaningful jobs using existing resources available to the Government” (PNP Manifesto, 2011).

But as you can see from the use of the word ’emergency’ this plan would be a short-term measure only. The problem of sustainability then arises. If this programme materializes, what will happen when resources dry up? Do these young men and women simply re-enter the system with no skills or long term opportunities?

These problems plague the developing world: high unemployment rates, low education, low skills and no long term solutions. We are told to follow a certain path to achieve success, but that path cannot be seen for many of us; it is blocked by economic, educational or family issues.

In truth, the rules of the economy have changed. The world our parents grew up in is fading away quickly, and as technology increases there has been a steady loss of jobs in many sectors. We must adapt, become self-reliant and move out of our comfort zones to ensure that we are productive.

The fact is young people in developing countries must use their age as an advantage to create wealth for themselves. The youth are more adaptable to new technology, learning new skills and innovation. Bill Gates was only 17 years old when he started his first partnership and Mark Zuckerberg was only 20 when he launched Facebook. Both are very intelligent and could have followed the well-trodden path; to go to college, graduate, find a job and live comfortably. Instead, they used their personal interests to create wealth for themselves and did not follow the traditional route.

This does not mean that our governments should forfeit responsibility, they should create an environment that promotes economic and social growth where our youth can be productive and have access to opportunities for a better life. However, we must also assess the situations that we have been handed and use them as an opportunity to create sustainable options for our own well-being.

We all have the spirit of innovation and self-reliance. If higher education is too expensive, you must use your secondary education to your full potential. If that is not available, think of what you like to do in your free time and capitalize on it until you can move forward.

Governments and their strategies will come and go, but it is important for young people in the developing world to find a positive way to provide the stability that the government structure cannot. Self-reliance and innovation can pave the way for poor and lower income youth to create sustainable wealth for their future.

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About me:

“I’m a television editor/producer and business communications specialist. I have a first degree in media and communications and international relations. I enjoy classic literature, art, studying languages and reading about foreign policy and other political issues.

“I have two goals I would like to achieve in my lifetime: to travel to many places around the world and to make an impact through media by encouraging behavioural change.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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