“Having a discussion with some of my young people at church, many are voicing concerns over the point of going to university, when there is no work for them when they graduate.”
LET’S GET OUR YOUNG PEOPLE WORKING
It has become increasingly difficult for young people find work. Amie Buhari shares how churches can help develop young people’s employment skills, and guide them through these trying times
“Youth unemployment has reached a new record high, to leave over 22% of 16- to 24-year olds without a job.”
Office for National Statistics
The Bible says it is good for a man to work. Adam worked, Jesus worked, and even God worked. Work gives an individual purpose. Our work helps define us. Often, our work is a reflection of our talents. Hard work built the infrastructures of society. Work gives substance and provision to the family, to a person’s worth. “Those who work the land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense” (Proverbs 12:11).
So, if work is so important, what do we say to our young people when there is no work available? UK unemployment rose by 28,000 to 2.67 million during the three months to January, with the unemployment rate at 8.4%, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Unemployment is at an all-time high for young people, with it being the highest among Black males. Adults encourage young people to stay in education and to get into debt to put themselves in a better position to get a good job, but now those jobs are becoming scarce. How can we keep our young people motivated to work, when there is little work out there?
Having a discussion with some of my young people at church, many are voicing concerns over the point of going to university, when there is no work for them when they graduate. They prefer to try and start working now, so that they get onto the work ladder sooner rather than later. I have heard from other young people commenting, “We might as well sign on for Income Support, because we’ll get more money that way”, but the Bible says, “The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work” (Proverbs 21:25). If this state of unemployment continues, we will have a generation of young people who see work as a chore, and don’t value its worth. We will have a non-progressive society that relies on handouts. We will have a community that cannot, and will not, work. “One, who is slack in his work, is brother to one who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9).
So, what do we the Church do about this very real and serious situation? How can we keep our young people motivated to continue their education, with a means to getting a good job? How do we ensure that we do not raise our children without the merits of hard work? Well, firstly, we need to invest timeworking with our young people, to ensure that they have the proper social and communicative skills needed to secure and continue in a job. Employers are now complaining that many young people do not have the necessary skills required to hold down a job. They find that the level of maturity and social skills of young people is of such a low standard, that they would rather offer the job to someone older, who has good interpersonal skills and the ability to represent the company in a good light. We can create programmes within our churches that teach employability skills to our young people as part of the youth curriculum. Sometimes we forget that we are here to provide practical, as well as spiritual, learning for our young people. Preparing them in every way for working life is essential.
I have three practical ideas, which all churches can put into action:
- Set up a university fund for young church members. We all know that church finances are going through interesting times at the moment, but it doesn’t matter how much money we save, it’s about why we do it, and the impact it will have. A university fund shows young people that we are all responsible for and committed to their upbringing. It says that we are willing to invest in them.
- Teach them principles of working according to the Bible. I believe we have forgotten to do this. We don’t explain the benefits of hard work, and that it is a foundation of our Christian faith.
- Create positions of work within church. Give young people areas of responsibility that they can take ownership of. Work towards long-term goals of creating paid positions within your church, so that when the world fails, we know that we can provide, keeping our young people in the church.
Deuteronomy 5:13 says, “Six days you shall labour and do all your work.” Let’s make sure our young people have the opportunity and ability to do that.
Amie Buhari is an actress and youth leader.