The 21st Century Hunters and Gathers. Skills that African Urban Youths Need to Survive in These Challenging Times.
At the end of the day people don’t care on what you have they only care on what you can deliver to them.
It has been a year a so since I saw my young brother and friend. We met recently. He is doing good with his life having with enough money to survive and take care of his family. He is supporting his mother and his three siblings. I met him seven years ago when I was running my first business in Dodoma. He was in secondary school, form Two student with a lot of passion for graphic design. At that time he didn’t have a good PC. He was spending time at my office practicing his skills.
He was never a “classroom” person. I bet he didn’t even do well on his final results in form four. For sure he had skills and was talented with Adobe Photoshop, designers and creatives software.
A few months later after my business hit the wall. We could no longer accommodate him at our office. I left Dodoma until a few years later when we bounced off in Dar. He was still doing the same thing graphics design in a small startup company. He was fortunate enough to get hired by another digital branding agency together with my other young brother, another talented graphic designer. They never had good certificates but they had skills.
They were hired by a very senior person in the company who was frustrated with hiring people with college degrees who couldn’t get things done. He didn’t care much about their certificates. He only cared about the skills.
Fast forward to 2018 both the two young guys are doing good with their careers. One is a creative director of a young but successful company and another is a key person in a reputed digital branding agency.
These two young guys and several that I had mentored at Buni Innovation Hub taught me a very important lesson about skills. Things that most of us take them lightly are what drives people’s lives. While you take pictures for fun, there are thousands of youths in Africa living on photography. They are making good money far better than an average public or private sector employees. Today, we have young people running social media management who are earning far better than an average computer science graduate and they have never been to college. The story goes on and on. I don’t even want to talk about coding skills, videography, digital marketing etc.
In urban Africa, where the internet penetration is quite okay. These are the skills would have invest on if I had resources to do so. Resources to help more young people attain these skills. With all the video tutorials on YouTube and the MOOCs that exist online. It has never been a better time for young people to learn these new out-of-school skills. At Sahara Ventures we are doing our fair share of the work to empower young people to attain these skills through different programs and interventions; Amua Accelerator, Mawazo Challenge, e-Kilimo Accelerator and Inspire100 being some of those interventions.
My focus today is on young people. What can you do as a young person living in these challenging times and looking for a job.
- Learn on demand skills; don’t leave in the world of “Bachelor Degrees” and “Certifications”. We are no longer there. Attain skills that can ensure you hitting the ground with a higher gear.
- Focus, Focus, Focus; I know a person who spend 12 hours on Photoshop almost everyday and that is the only thing he does. I have worked with a good number of graphics designers. I can say with confidence he is the best and he is making a fortune out of his skills.
- Invest on soft skills; communication is key. It is very common for a mediocre cider to get a good gig just because he can communicate. Learn to present yourself, how to push your agenda and negotiation skills.
- Don’t settle for less; always aim for the best. Don’t be that guy who is okay to deliver average work. This ain’t the world for average guys.
- Upgrade yourself; I know a young photographer who had to learn about SDGs just because he want to tell stories about the goals through photography. He is constantly learning about new trends in photography and position himself as a world class photographer.
- Invest; always reinvest your money into your skills and tools. Buy better tools and pay for new knowledge and exposure.
Hope this will help all hunters and gathers out there. Best of luck in your career.
- Hassan Mohammed and Jukay “The Tanzanian Dream” , keep up the good work.
- Sadam Mjaka, “The Magician”
- Imani Nsamila, “SDGs Photographer”
Let’s continue to learn.