There is a popular saying in Oshiwambo that translate to “hard work never kills”. Something that the elders in the north constantly tell the youth, especially the lazy ones when it comes to work. I like that saying and the meaning behind it. No one ever dies from working hard, if that was the case then our forefathers wouldn’t have lived to give birth to our parents.
Our history and country is built on sweat, blood and tears of those before us. They did it through a lot of hard work, the hard way, the old fashioned way, they built it through blue collar work and jobs, the backbone of anything physically valuable. Today most of the youth come out of colleges and universities with degrees and diplomas where they learn valuable skills and are armed with knowledge and information in their designated fields. The only thing is that they unanimously complain about a lack of employment with their qualifications. All the hard work and hours put into tests, assignments and exams only to make it out and get rejected by the market. It’s becoming extremely difficult to find employment with degrees and diplomas only.
Blue collar work will never go out of fashion, just as the country will never run out of strong and energetic youths. Jobs like that of miners, plumbers and builders are being forsaken in the market for office work, in the process killing industries that have existed for decades and helped build this country, physically and economically. The majority of the higher education budget was sent to the three big educational institutions, University of Namibia (Unam), Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) and the International University of Management (IUM). While the less recognised institutions like the Vocational Training Centre (VTC), which produce the bulk of ‘qualified’ blue collar workers, cannot afford such help.
There is a young man who built a plane in the north out of car parts and other material. He is self-taught in all the work that he needed to know, from wielding to cutting metal and putting it back together. He did it all without ever getting any tertiary education. He is a beautiful example that the youth are more than capable to do great things that could be valuable to the economy, should blue collar jobs be given the necessary attention and assistance, the youth will rise up to the challenge.
After all this is the Land of the Braves and hard work never scared us!
*Olavi Popyeinawa has a diploma in Alternative Dispute Resolution and is currently studying law, LLB at the University of Namibia (Unam). He will weekly contributing this column on youth mattersInstagram: niceguy_olavi Facebook: Olavi Longfellow Twitter: @OlaviPopyeinawa