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The following submission is a recent understanding I gained reading  Trevor Noah’s memoir “Born a Crime”. I agree with him firsthand.

We have heard this saying over and over again…we’re even taught it in rhymes during our preschool days – “if you give a man a fish, he will have a single meal, but if you teach him how to fish, he will eat all the time”. Oh, how we believed it. And chanted it with such gusto.
Then we saw ourselves over the years trying to learn to fish so we can eat all the time.

What we forgot to see then, but hopefully we get to see now, is the fact that after teaching a man to fish, you need to provide him with fishing gear so he can begin to fish. Most people who have made it successfully today will always tell you about their big break. The one moment when someone or something presented him or her with the hook and line he or she so badly needed to put his fishing lessons to use and convert it into something substantial.

What am I saying?

I am saying that it’s not enough to just give a person education or training without providing the job opportunity (or starter pack,  whatever form it takes) or what I call “the hook and line” needed to transform that knowledge into wealth.

That’s the current case of the alarming rates of unemployment, especially youth unemployment globally but sadly more in developing countries.

You see job advertisements asking for 25 years of experience for a role that simply requires basic knowledge in bookkeeping, organization, or administrative work.

You see global organizations advertising roles that require a minimum qualification of a high school diploma or let me step it up a bit; a degree (which most young innovative people have) but they go ahead to say must have at least 10 years experience in a similar role.  (really?)

What we have failed to realize is that the world is shifting from the era of typical specialization to what we now call expert generalists. The days when a person studies accounting and becomes an accountant for the whole of their lives is gradually but steadily giving way to the days when you need to be an expert in different fields.

In as much as experience is important in any given field,  we need to remember that we have to take the chance on the people  (especially young people) who have the energy, drive, passion,  innovative ideas, and non-financial wherewithal to add value to your organization, institutions, or business.

Decent work should not be a privilege to a selected few but equal access to anyone who is ready to put a hand to the plow. – By Elizabeth Ofori  GM TLBBHF

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