The Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT) recently did a situational analysis that spanned from last year into this year. The exercise has unearthed that the majority of local young people are struggling to find employment. The number is so high that it is in the millions which is quite disturbing. Youths aged between 18 and 24 years of age were sampled across all the provinces. The findings showed that of all those sampled, a paltry 7% were formally employment.

Just in case you might be questioning the validity of these findings here is something to ease your concern. This year the World Bank also did their own research and its findings showed that only 8.13% of young people are formally employed (i.e. for those aged between 15 and 24). Thus YETT’s situational analysis was done quite comprehensively and their findings are valid and generalizable to the whole of Zimbabwe. In this article, we discuss some of the interesting findings from that situational analysis.

Statistical Findings

When it comes to male youths and female youths it revealed that about 9% and 5.2% respectively, have formal employment. Urban young people who have formal employment turned out to be just a tenth of the total number of young people living in urban areas. As for young people in rural areas, only 5% were formally employed. These figures are extremely low especially in comparison to stats for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.

The situational analysis also unearthed that over half of the 7% (mentioned earlier – the formally employed ones), are employed as general hands. Then a quarter of that 7% are young people formally employed in the public sector. About 12.6% are employed in the beverages domain whilst 6.1% are employed in mining. Those in the transport sector were 5.1% and those working for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were 2.9%. Overall, it emerged that the vast majority of the 7% were doing jobs far removed from the academic fields they pursued at tertiary institutions.

Of the sampled youths, only 9% indicated that they owned and ran some sort of business. In comparison to stats for sub-Saharan Africa, that figure is very low. The proportion of young people residing in urban areas who run a business was 16% whereas only 5% of those in rural areas stated they run a business. The province with the highest portion of young people with businesses was Harare (16%) and Bulawayo was at 14%. Matabeleland South had just 5% whilst Mashonaland Central had just 4.3% thus making them the provinces with the lowest portion of young people with businesses.

Looking at those young people running businesses, the study showed that they, on average, realize profits of US$40 per month. Manufacturing businesses were the ones with the highest average monthly profit (US$74). Businesses focusing on services had monthly average profits of US$53. Agribusinesses had average profits of US$41 per month whereas retail businesses were at the bottom with just US$25 monthly. These young people also indicated that most of them never received funding from financial institutions. Actually, as low as 9% of them indicated that they had received some form of funding from financial institutions.

The report also showed that 40% of the sample bemoaned lack of funding or capital as impediments to their effective participation in the economy. Of these young people, about 14% indicated that the volatility of the local currency is also another impediment. Lack of information was also cited as an impediment – about 8% of them said so.

Other Findings

For major cities such as Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare there were two main issues mentioned as a premise upon which unemployment is too high. Young people in these cities revealed most potential employers had scaled down their operations due to the ever-increasingly tough operating environment. Secondly, other potential employers had since closed down due to incapacity to continue being operational. This actually is quite rampant all across Zimbabwe because of the ailing economy.

We can discuss numerous issues regarding unemployment in Zimbabwe because it is a vast topic. It might interest you to know the International Labour Organization (ILO) once stated 7 years ago that the local curriculum is majorly not relevant to the industry. This is especially so in light of the rapidly changing operating environment we now live in. This means that despite all the economic factors (which definitely need to be addressed), the education sector also needs to be remodelled.