Prepare your child for work

What you need to know:

FORMATION. The foundation for every career matters. You can shape your child for future employment, writes Joseph Kato.

The Education ministry statistics show that more than 400,000 youth are churned out of universities and other higher institutions of learning. The fresh graduates join their counterparts who are already on the streets looking for employment. On several occasions, the blame has been put on the education system that is more theoretical than practical. The question remains, what should parents do to prepare their children for future employment.

Emmanuel Kweyunga, director Kairere Green Africa Agency (Kegra), a youth empowerment organisation in Bushenyi District, says parents have a big role to play in fighting unemployment. They should teach children to start, manage and operate their own businesses. This is the first step in creating a more independent and self-driven generation of youth.

“When a child has some business skills he or she does not have the mentality of being given all the time. Some youth have beaten up or killed parents because they do not have survival skills. Therefore, they should be involved in family business or be taught how to look after the farms,” Kweyunga explains.

Kweyunga believes that nurturing a child to fend for themselves should start when they are very young regardless of the parents’ income status. “A child mentored with business skills cannot let his parents’ business collapse,” he opines.

Give them confidence
Humphrey Nabimanya, team leader Reach A Hand Uganda, a teenage and youth empowerment non-profit organisation, believes children can be prepared for future employment by developing their confidence and decision making ability.

“Sometimes youth miss out job opportunities because they lack confidence. Fear wrestles their dreams. Parents and schools need to develop and instill confidence into children. They should develop a feeling of managing everything before them,” Nabimanya says.

Foundation with guidance
Internships help lay the foundation for a career. Interns, Nabimanya says must receive high standards of training and supervision. This can be achieved by choosing an organisation that stirs your career dreams. Young people should be encouraged to explore all work avenues.

Also , career advisers at schools should be meeting students earlier in school to help steer them on a career path. “Students need to be provided with a sense of direction regarding career paths and be made aware of the vast opportunities out there for them,” Nabimanya says.

Spot talent
Berna Nalwanga, a career and behaviour counsellor, at Nnabagereka Development Foundation, says parents should identify and support children’s talents.

You can identify your child’s talent by watching him play. Seeing what your child chooses will give you an idea of where his talents lie. For instance, if his interest is in music you sign him up for keyboard lessons. “The key is to let your child discover different angles of an activity and to watch for what really catches his attention. If you think your child will like it, start with piano lessons but tell him that if he does not enjoy playing after some time, he can move on to another instrument,” she says.

Encourage them
Do not discourage a child who enjoys playing video games. It is not a waste of time. That could a step to exploring a dream. “When your child is into graphics, animation, storytelling or problem solving, it may be boosting his innate talents. Nothing is a waste of time. Discouraging him or her may only flatten his desire to pursue his interests,” Nalwanga argues.

If your child returns from school, picks up his notebook and starts to write a short story for fun, you might be exhilarated. If she draws comics or writes riddles encourage her or him the more. Loving to write and writing what you love, go together. Once your child feels censored or limited, she might stop expressing herself creatively.

You should put aside your interests, prejudices and preconceptions when preparing a child for future employment. Be supportive and praise your child’s intelligence. When you praise their effort, children become more inclined to taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them.

Be involved in managing his ups and downs. Sometimes a child may be discouraged by a slight mistake or judgment, yet it is a great first step to actually doing it, whether writing or dancing. Do not be fast to give them instructions.

As the years pass, the network of people that support your child grows, through family and friendships, person-centred planning, the professional that care for your child, or through his or own networking activities that were part of a transition plan. Your child’s network may be full of people eager to see him or her succeed. Encouraging your child to contact people as that network may result in job leads, or the names of other people to contact for job leads.

The key to successful networking is to keep at it by following up with people contacted so they think to call your child when an appropriate opportunity opens up.

Nalwanga, and Kweyunga emphasise that education and skill development go hand in hand to solve unemployment. It is time parents looked at equipping their children with more than one skill. “Let a child possess first class degrees or good grades but also have practical skills. We encourage parents not to disperse vocational skills. A degree is no longer a guarantee for employment,” warns Nalwanga.

Two cents

Vincent Omedo, head teacher of St Agnes Academy, Kisugu, says some youth fail to secure employment because they do not know how to express themselves. Unemployment can be reduced when children are taught to interpret verbal and non-verbal language. Some children need more instructions than others to acquire the critical, social skill of reading facial expressions, body language, and tone.

A parent can boost the child’s self-esteem through checking how the child identifies a person’s feeling and why. If he misunderstands the emotion, point out inklings about the suitable emotion. Make a face that represents a particular emotion, and then ask your child to imitate the face and identify the countenance he is making.

You can also use everyday situations in your home to help her get a better handle on how others are reacting. Design a game of identifying the emotions that go with tone. You might call her for using diverse pitches, intensity, and loudness. Afterwards ask your child to say a sentence in three dissimilar ways to convey differences in emotion.