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According to the United Nations, people who fall within the 15-24 years age bracket are categorized as the youth. This was done specifically by UNESCO, taking into consideration the different definitions of youth in different countries in the world. To understand the importance of youth in society, it is crucial to look at the various roles they play (Lesko, 2013). This will give an insight into why the extent to which the youth are empowered in a country determines the socio-economic development rate of that particular country.
According to Usman Saeed (2015), the youth is the heartbeat of a nation. In contrast to the old society where the elders used to make all the important decisions concerning day to day life, in modern society, the youth play an active role in this process. The youth actively participate and partially drive political, social and economic development. Now more than ever, the opinions of the youth are being given priority and their views taken seriously. This is the reason why as far as culture is concerned; the youth are the embodiment of maximum multicultural competence. This is driven by the changes over the years which have reduced the stringency of crossing borders and have made traveling from country to country possible. For the youth, extensive travels are educational, where people study abroad to come back to make their country better with new ideologies and expertise. Another factor which has made the youth the epitome of multicultural competence is the technological advancements which have seen the world turn into a local village, in the sense that people can communicate with each other instantly, regardless of the points of the world they are. It is, therefore, true to say that in modern society, the youth represent the change required for a better future, and socioeconomic development is at the center of these changes.
This research is meant to show that socio-economic development is the major point of focus of any country in the world today and that sustainable socio-economic development is highly dependent on the effective execution of the youth’s role. The efficiency of the role played by the youth in this process is however dependent on the investment made by the countries in the human capital, which should be focused on the youth. The research will look to show the importance of empowering the youth in areas such as education, industrial training, and even morality.
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What role does the youth play in socio-economic development?
There are two pillars that determine the socio-economic development status of any country. These are economic growth and the level of poverty. For socioeconomic development to be sustainable, economic growth has to be accompanied with poverty reduction. The primary method of reducing poverty is the creation of employment opportunities. Employment opportunities are usually created through industrialization which is facilitated by investment in areas that are less industrialized in a country. The investments can be local or foreign. However, there are several factors that determine the willingness of businesspersons to invest in certain regions. These include the availability of labor, accessibility of the area regarding infrastructure, security and so forth.
Availability of Labor
Before a person decides to invest in a particular area, he or she has to be assured that not only will labor be available, but its quality will be good enough. This is because the quality of labor has a direct influence on the quality of production which in turn affects the demand for the product, the sales made and ultimately, the profit generated. The key to having high-quality labor in a region is proper education and industrial training of the youth. The level of education of the youth determines their ability to comprehend the concepts involved in the business operations including production, management, and marketing. In general, therefore, for a country to promote economic growth, it must increase the level of capital generation. Capital generation is encouraged by investment in all types of capital including human capital. Investing in human capital translates to educating the youth in preparation for them to actively participate in economic activities. This, therefore, creates employment which also works to alleviate poverty and in the long run, sustainable socio-economic development is achieved.
In modern society, governments have however not been very supportive as far as youth empowerment is concerned. The transition from educational training to actively participating in the capital generation by working is still very difficult (Navracsics, 2015). Finding a job for an immediate grandaunt is an uphill climb, and this situation is more pronounced in developing countries. This explains why the rate of unemployment is usually higher among the youth and this has several implications, including violence and insecurity. Every time a country goes to an election, the most repeated promise which is never fulfilled is the employment of the youth. Being always optimistic and yearning for things to get better, the youth elect different leaders who never fulfill this promise, probably because they do not know the two principles of creating employment for the youth, which is education and job creation. In some developing countries, there are employment opportunities, but labor is unavailable. This is mainly due to the low education standards in the regions which render many grandaunts unfit in the labor market. This has contributed to a certain disregard for the importance of education by some youth, and this translates to poor economic growth.
Violence and Insecurity
The direct executors of violence and insecurity are usually the youth. This is usually contributed to a great extent by the high rate of unemployment among the youth. This usually gives them a sense of hopelessness, and when approached by the people who want them to do the dirty work for them, the first thought which usually comes to their minds is that this is an opportunity to make money. The second thought happens to be more dangerous, which is the perception that they have nothing to lose. Such scenarios lead to a significant number of youth getting involved in illegal businesses such as drug trafficking and robbery which most of the time involve violence. Some people are also recruited into gangs and terror groups, and the result of this is the deterioration of security in the areas within which they operate. This derails development by first of all hindering effective education, as the young ones grow into youth hood believing that one doesn’t need education to be successful, which is a very misleading notion. What is worse, some of the gags involve the youth, especially the juveniles, in making the dirtiest and most risky bids due to the knowledge that underage people are treated relatively leniently in the security and justice systems (Peter Kempen and John S. Najar, 1995). Another impact of insecurity is the unwillingness of investors to venture into businesses in areas that are hotspots for violence and insecurity. Even the businesses which are already established in such areas do not operate to their maximum potential due to fear. Violence and insecurity can also have the impact of causing political instability, especially one which involves terrorism or civil war. This usually limits the operation of businesses while at the same time promoting corruption and misuse of public funds by politicians, who claim to have allocated the money to security matters. Such activities promote the accumulation of wealth by a small number of people whose impact is the skyrocketing of poverty levels. This, therefore, slows down economic growth very significantly, leading to poor socio-economic development.
Youth and Culture
The cultural beliefs and practices of society have an impact on the socio-economic development of a country. For example, in countries where education is considered more important to a particular group of people leaving out others, the economic growth of such a country is likely to be imbalanced, and therefore macro-economic instability will be one characteristic of the country. For example, one of the reasons why many African countries are underdeveloped is the fact that in the past, the girl child was meant to grow up, get initiated into womanhood and get married at a very early age. On the other hand, the boy child’s education was given a lot of attention. This led to an economy that is highly imbalanced regarding gender. This has however been changing over the years, the embodiment of this change is the youth and the media. The media plays the role of availing several cultural practices of different people from all across the world. These practices are mainly presented in the form of entertainment as well as the business through advertisement. The youth, being the main consumers of information from social media is, therefore, the first people to access this information.
Any piece of art, be it music, paintings, religion or dance, has the power to transform a person. Whenever the youth access some fascinating information on the internet, the information might inspire the person to do the same thing, something related to that or try to come up with a new idea from the idea. This means that when a person sees people doing things in a particular way, he or she might be tempted to try to do things the way the people on media were doing it. This means that the media has a great influence on how people act. The media can also play the role of commending or condemning certain practices, and this affects the perception of the people of such actions (Orton-Johnson, 2013). This means that the media has a significant influence in molding the modern way of doing things, such as promoting equality as far as age, race, religion or gender are concerned. The youth are the people who usually drive the implementation of these themes, and therefore their participation in social transformation is impeccable.
This, therefore, means that the youth drive multicultural competence which promotes equality even in the employment sector. This means that no group in the society will feel marginalized, which is a positive to economic growth because the feeling of marginalization of some groups is usually a recipe for revolutions and even civil wars, in the case where the marginalization affects an entire community (Orton-Johnson, 2013). The acceptance of cultural diversity, therefore, which is spearheaded by the youth, is in itself a source of economic balance which ensures that the distribution of wealth in a country is proportional. The balance promotes equitable economic growth which alleviates poverty at an equal proportion and consequently leads to sustainable socio-economic development.
It is, therefore, true to say that any country with a vision to achieve sustainable economic growth requires the maximum backing of its youth. The youth is the indicator of how developed a country is, and they determine how fast or slow the economy grows. If the youth don’t get employed, the level of poverty increases due to the constantly increasing number of youths and this means that even if the working population generates capital, on one hand, the youth will be negating its effect on the other hand, and therefore at the end of the day, there will be no significant economic growth. When the youth of a nation are focused on economic development, the particular nation is more likely to achieve its development vision. It is, therefore, true to say that in modern society, the youth are the driving force of sustainable socio-economic development, and therefore their involvement in the development plans of a country is paramount.
Lesko, N. (2013). Denaturalizing adolescence: the politics of contemporary representations. Youth and Society.
Navracsics, T. (2015). Empowering young people to participate in society. European Union.
Orton-Johnson, D. K. (2013). Youth, Culture, Media and Society. Undergraduate handbook.
Peter Kempen and John S. Najar. (1995). Youth violence in society today. The Detroit News.
Saeed, U. (2015). What is the role of youth in society? Linkedi