This is an excerpt from a government circular for employment. An example of one of many. The point I question is the number of post graduate years of experience. Why is it that experience is a requisite for employment whereas it was the government that educated us through a system they trust and believe in? In my view, it is this requirement that our country is lagging behind in terms of innovation and development. The newly graduated, now unemployment youth in South Africa are sitting at home with the qualifications catching dust on old furniture. What the qualification is best for in that case is decoration and a bragging chip for those who come from underprivileged communities.
‘Post 15/03: SCIENTIST PRODUCTION GRADE A-C REF NO: 26/2016
Requirements: “A BSc (Hons) degree in Plant Sciences/ Agriculture/ Botany or Genetics. Three years’ post qualification experience, etc.’
According to StatsSA, South Africa has its unemployment rate at 26.7% while that of the youth is 54.5% unemployed and statistician General Dr Pali Lehohla said that “more of these unemployed are coloureds and blacks, which causes them to be involved in crime”. These unemployed youth are suppressing ground breaking innovative and development ideas that are burning to be released and move our country and continent to a new and higher level. It is unfortunate because the barrier between us and employment is the same thing standing between our country and development – “Experience”!
The world is a dynamic environment in its nature, and for us to keep up with it, even lead the dynamism, is to allow young people the opportunity to present their ideas, lead and let them flourish. Jiddu Krishnamurti once said; “Any society that does not respond to the new challenges of a group or an individual obviously decays”. It’s either we respond with new ideas, or perish. I choose the former! The problem with experience is that it attempts to address new challenges with old “solutions”. So called solutions that were devised decades, or even centuries ago and are today, inefficient. I believe that the for the world’s dynamic challenges to be successfully addressed, different approaches ought to be used. As a country, we have tried this route of “experience” for two decades and the results have been the same if not create new challenges. As I type this, I remember the words of the famous scientist – Albert Einstein, who described insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I believe, in the utmost of terms, that we are not an insane nation. We cannot and should not continue doing things conventionally as accepted by many. We ought to devise and use distinct, different and tailor made approaches. The fact that an approach is “working” and has been for a long time does not mean there is no better alternative. Neither should it be the reason why new ideas are shunned and young people secluded.
In natural Sciences, snakes shed their skin to allow for further growth and to remove parasites that may have attached to their old skin. This is done for health and development reasons. A snake wouldn’t go out searching for a skin that has been used for two years or more “because it knows better and is ready”. For many trees, winter is an unfavourable season and as it approaches, the trees shed their leaves to conserve water and survive the cold, dry air of the season. Afterwards, new leaves emerge. Leaves that are ready to give life to the tree after an intense season. South Africa (as a tree), is going through its winter and the youth are the new leaves. Let us emerge and absorb the sunlight for its growth, survival and development. Through “experience” we are only prolonging winter to a twelve months season every year.
If our government really thinks that the education they give us best equips us for the practical work environment and industries, it should do away with this impediment. It should unlearn that the old have superior knowledge and learn that it is possible to redefine old accepted phenomena. That which is referred to as “knowledge” is nothing more than what was learnt (ages ago), committed to memory only to be accessed to address challenges faced.
These new challenges need fresh minds, free of conditioning and “experience”. They require minds that are ready to redefine, prove and disprove concepts and phenomena. It will be the youth that does this, under conducive environments for growth and development. I know we are ready, the time is now. We have been armed with knowledge, now let us go fight the war against underdevelopment, poverty and unemployment. Give us (they youth) space of real influence and we will lead this country and continent forward. Unless the cause is purely ageist and seeks to perpetuate the existing state of affairs!