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Fixing third world unemployment Fixing third world unemployment
by Joseph Gatt
2021-03-15 11:14:34
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Classical economics has it that “skills mismatch in the job market” and “lack of skilled labor” and “brain drain” are the main causes for high unemployment in the third world.

But, I had a thought experiment. Over the last 24 hours I had been mind-mapping articles in Kabyle, a tribal language spoken 100 miles East of Algiers, and that has very little written literature.

So I was going to write an article about the local economy, mind-mapped in Kabyle of course. And that answered my question of how high unemployment rates come to be.

In some countries like France unemployment rates rarely dip below double figures. In Africa, Asia and Latin America, unemployment is anywhere between 20% and 50% of the 18-35 age range.

unempl01_400Of course there's the problem of lack of skills. And there's the problem of the brain drain. And there's the problem where businesses have trouble breaking even and can't hire people. And there's the fact that a lot of the cash cows in those nations are located in mines and deserts, where workers do not enjoy housing, family life, and decent shopping and leisure centers.

But, more importantly, unemployment is often caused by the lack of “soft-skills” and the fear of the unknown and strangers.

That is, during the time I spent investigating labor trends and unemployment trends around the world, as a participant observer, I noticed that a lot of young people choose to opt out of the workforce, simply because they do not have the social skills to work with strangers and interact with strangers.

Picture this. It's your first day at work. 50+ people are sitting in office desks or working behind machines. You don't know any of them. You don't know their names. You don't know their tribal affiliations. You don't know their likes and dislikes. This can cause great anxiety.

In most of Europe and North America, people deal with the anxiety. They are comfortable being surrounded by strangers, and slowly engage in getting to know them.

But in tribal societies, you are not an individual, you are a reflection of your clan or tribe. So guy or girl shows up to work the first day, sees 100 faces that they have never met before. They freeze. They sweat. Adrenaline flows.

With all that anxiety they are too shy to ask what their tasks are going to be, what their place within the company is going to be, and what is expected of them on the job. They are too shy to ask.

But their boss also has something of a tribal mentality. He won't guide the newcomer through his or her tasks. He won't tell them what to do. And he will wait for them to goof up before humiliating them.

They quit their job, and never seek another job. Only when they or their family desperately needs money do they start looking for work.

They usually spend day in and day out daydreaming about obtaining visas to Europe or North America, when they often don't even bother looking up the procedure to obtain a tourism visa, and wait for brokers to fill out their tourism visa applications.

And if they do reach Europe or North America, again, they show up to work, grow anxious when surrounded with unfamiliar faces, don't dare ask questions, don't want to be guided on how to get work done (because being guided and lectured means that they are ignorant, therefore they interrupt the lecture and claim that they “know” when they really don't know).

So in tribal societies only those with a wealthy uncle or a wealthy cousin get jobs, because they can move to the privacy of their own homes to get lectured on how to get the job done.

If you come from a poor family with no one in the family who owns a business, you won't be able to adjust to any job. And it's going to take a decade or two before you finally meet a wealthy businessman who trusts you, is willing to guide you and train you to perform your job.

The other problem is that in tribal societies respect and honor are very important. Workers want constant praise, respect and positive reviews for their work and the quality of their work. If workers are sensing that their presence is not appreciated, they tend to “disappear” without even bothering to hand in a resignation letter. Or they show up to work but refuse to perform any work-related task, and go home with the paycheck.

How do you solve this problem? It starts of course with identifying the problem.

Second thing I would do is have people set up NGOs where they do a simple thing: they teach strangers to be comfortable around strangers.

That is, I would set up a program where there's a weekly meeting (or a couple of meetings a week) where total strangers interact with total strangers. They learn how to introduce each other to each other, how to interact with each other, how to be comfortable around each other.

And perhaps they'll get a lecture or two or a seminar or two where they are taught a few “soft skills” on how to fit into a company where you start off as a total stranger.

That should help youngsters be more comfortable next time they apply for a job, and be less anxious on their first day on the job.

But then, these youngsters also need to know that they will be receiving very cold receptions on their first few weeks on the job, and that people won't always be eager to get to know them or share a cup of coffee with them. They will need to learn that it takes a few months to become a fixture at any organization.

Finally, indeed, in third world countries, mediocre workers tend to bully stellar workers, because mediocre workers worry that the stellar workers are going to steal their jobs. Workers are expected not to be too comfortable on the job, and workers are expected to be uncomfortable on the job, although not too uncomfortable.  

So kids need to be taught to look for jobs at companies that have good ambitions, that apply a good code of ethics, and that don't hire staff who chant “hurray!” when there's a terrorist massacre or a mass shooting. Perhaps “ethical companies” could be catalogued and youngsters who have motivation enough to go through a soft-skills program could have motivation enough to apply to ethical companies.

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