Transforming society for young people to thrive



Today, more than ever before, we live in a world faced with enormous social challenges.  Recently, the world marked one of the greatest milestones with seven billion people.  Out of this total population, 1.8 billion are youth aged 10 to 24 with 90% of them living in developing countries. 

Research has shown that this generation is the most interconnected and the challenges they face are ever more daunting.  It is important to deal with these challenges so that institutions can address them as they frame the stakes of youth policies and programmes.

Political ideologies: Young people are subjected to frequent changes in political ideologies meant to support decision making in matters affecting them across government ministries, legislature, parties, and Constitution. The expectation is that the changes in different ideologies will help improve economic situations they operate in.  Most of the times this has not been achieved, leaving young people hopeless.

Economic interdependence: Global economy supported by innovations that guarantee stable supply chains and market forces is a sign that it is not soon vanishing.  Young people are a part of this global economy and cannot work in isolation.   They are a generation that has grown up with inexpensive and instantaneous communication .The future belongs to those that are creative, smart and entrepreneurial. Policy actors should consider and be deliberate about drawing on the entire globe for talent and creating connectivity platforms.

Moral manipulation:  Mahatma Gandhi said that the seven things that will destroy us are wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, business without ethics, science without humanity, religion without sacrifice and politics without principles.  Young people in this country are subjected to situations where powerful people manipulate basic concept of morality by changing what is right into wrong and wrong into the right.  People in leadership positions should stop pursuing power and start pursuing services so that young people have models to emulate.  Leadership best practices calls for all leaders to have future generations in mind as they make decisions.

Social transitions: The institutional landscape within which young people have to pursue their livelihoods and well-being objectives have continued to evolve. Understanding socio-technical regimes in a developing country like Kenya means embracing high levels of social complexity. Some experts have argued that regulations and standards can counter this challenge but issues like corruption continue to undermine the effort.   This set up usually leave young people in the confused.

Poor Governance: Corruption is a real and significant challenge to development, and should be an issue of focus by state and non-state actors. It is possible to distinguish corruption by type of gain (power, money, position, goods or services), by method of corruption (bribery, embezzlement, future employment) or by the target influenced (laws and regulatory design, legal or regulatory application, procurements, hiring decisions, distribution of resources or services).  Whichever way policy makers look at it, they should have young people and their future in mind.  What will the country bequeath our youth?  How will future generations speak of current leaders?

Twenty first Century Competencies: In a world of rapid change, young people need the correct skills set and competencies to thrive. Access to information is increasing, and memorizing facts is less important today than in the past. Although academic skills remain important, they are not adequate to trigger thoughtful, productive, and engaged citizens. Young people everywhere need to develop a greater breadth of skills to produce, evaluate and apply knowledge in ways that meet the new demands of our changing social and economic architecture.

Civic education: It empowers the youth to be active in policy-making processes and governance.   They are well informed of their rights and duties, as well as of mechanisms of participation in both national and devolved governance.  Perhaps time has come to have comprehensive civic education embedded into the school curriculum at all levels and making it a compulsory course as well as a standardized training course on civic education for young workers so as to empower them to effectively solve problems in local communities, participate in policy – and decision-making processes, and contribute to positive transformations at national and county levels.

In conclusion, it will take the will and commitment of all key players to create a prosperous future for young people. Despite all the challenges they face, our day to day engagement with young people always leave us optimistic and full of energy.  The level of commitment they have to make this country prosperous is unprecedented.  If we are to solve our pressing challenges in all economic sectors, we should tap into the dynamism and zeal of young people.  They have the potential to disrupt status quo and be the most creative forces for social change creating a world where everyone counts.

The writer is a member of Institute of Human Resource Management of Kenya and author of Business Research Methods