The need for this country to look to the most proactive crop of youths in today’s technology paced world going forward cannot go without notice and mention. Systems, Society and Culture (a way of life) dictated by the Industrial age may/will not provide complete solutions for the youth in this fast paced Information age. Nearly two decades ago, it was common place to find reputable organizations hunt for high performing final grader students in schools to send them farther to better Schools, Colleges, and Universities; and later employ them. The Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines, some banks and other organizations spearheaded this program.
Doesn’t this sound like a fiery tale to the youth of today? Well, times are different. We have to draw a thin to thick line between the two worlds; the Industrial and Information Ages.
Wikipedia defines an Industrial age as a period of history that encompasses the changes in economic and social organization that began in the mid-18th century in Great Britain and later spread to other parts of the world. One of the Industrial age’s features included the substitution of hand tools with power driven machines such as the power loom and the steam engine characterized by the concentration of industry in big establishment much of what we still see in Zambia today. Whether the mining sector can do without industrialization is a story for another day. As a matter of facts, presently, there are calls by some Government officials for Zambia to kick start the industrialization phenomenon.
So what is an Information age? Before we define an information age, it is worth pointing out that the world’s richest individuals of the 17th to 19th centuries participated and benefited from economic activities such as mining and oil which led them to their riches. Mining, manufacturing and oil rigging involved and still use heavy machinery suited for the industrial age.
Today, however, information is so valuable. The 21st century tycoons have capitalized on information harvesting, processing, storage, preservation and smart dissemination. The Information age, also known as digital age, the computer age or new media age has also given birth to what is called the digital economy. Wikipedia defines information age as a period in the 21st century characterized by the rapid shift from traditional industry that the industrial revolution brought by industrialization to the economy based on information technology – the digital economy.
Suffice to note that going forward, every social activity today requires some form of information technology enabled elements to become meaningful. It’s the new normal. Every person’s activity will have to do with information enabled elements to move forward. Government has already started to implement information technology enabled elements to interface and deal with citizens and business. With the ubiquitous internet access, Information can no longer be viewed as a preserve of the few elite in society. It is incumbent upon every youth to look within themselves break the barriers and begin to seek solutions aimed at bettering their lives by using information to their advantage. This age has opened up various opportunities for youths to explore and take advantage of. If the Industrialization spectacle is still with us in this part of the world, innovative smart ways of industrialization should be spearheaded by informed youths.
To circumvent the trap of unemployment, one of their biggest plight, youths need to take a fresh evolutional look at the time we are in and begin to ask questions based on informed backgrounds. They need to inculcate in themselves a reading culture. The need to strike a balance on time spent watching TV, unproductive social media platforms and focus on reading life changing books as they take advantage of and concur the Internet. They have everything to gain if they embrace information and use it wisely; everything to lose if they continue living in the information blind spots especially considering the fact that in today’s world, youths are actually competing for jobs with robots. Artificial Intelligence has advanced. You don’t have the luxury to sit back and not rise to the challenge.
Youths need to take time in group meetings, reading and analyzing carefully their documents – Youth Policy, Citizen Economic Empower Commission (CEEC) and the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) Annual Reports. When this is done, they will have the courage to face leadership heads up, sober and information rich. The 21st century Youth needs the four 21st century skills set – Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication. The 4 Cs.