Surviving Unemployed Young Women with Children
Back in 2003, I was a student and an unemployed youth at the same time, being depended to my parents one hundred percent. As my family endured an economic downturn in 2006, I realized that earning some money is critical for me. Working as a freelance book editor was my first employment experience. Being seventeen and a university student at that time, I was paid low and it lasted for only seven months. It took me two years ever since to be able to stand on my own feet by teaching Indonesian language to some expatriates. Knowing that English is vital to most kind of occupation, I spared some time and money to master it. During the writing of this essay, I have finished my undergraduate study, and I have been translating English books into Indonesian for ten months, and they pay me very well.
I am not the only youth survived from unemployment and fought our way to be financially independent. I have seen that many others, both friends and young people I barely knew through media, did not let themselves overwhelmed by difficult situations and thrived. Unfortunately, it does not happen to most of us. Young unemployment is still a growing concern in Indonesia as well as in other parts of the world. As this is something I have experienced myself, I am keen to make a difference about it.
3. Youth Unemployment in Indonesia and Its General Solutions
Indonesia is a developing country with a large percentage of young people. There was a projection that in 2010, there would be 20% people in the range of 15 up to 24 years old. The official census in 2000 revealed that the projection was reasonable as its graphic shows the comparison of the number of male (dark in color) and female (white in color) in a various range of age groups from 0 to 75 (vertical line). Numbers in the lower horizontal line are in million.
As stated by François Bourguignon, such large numbers of young people living in developing countries present great opportunities, but also risks. Without decent education and livelihood, young people might be onerous or engaged in crime and terrorism. Not only it would spoil their future, but also threaten the future of the country as a whole. How can a country develop, let alone become prosperous, if most of its citizens in their productive age have no earning and familiar with perturbing deeds?
In Indonesia, unemployed youth rate is considerably high, reaching 60 percent of total 11.6 millions jobless people. Education and vocational training are blamed as being failed to prepare the young people to compete in the workforce or to create new jobs. Even universities are questioned because, ironically, large parts of the unemployed work force are university graduates . These lead to some typical problems concerning youth unemployment in Indonesia.
Having graduated from a university last year, my peers are struggling to get proper jobs. Many of them find it difficult because they do not have sufficient English skills or because their undergraduate backgrounds are not popular. Those whose parents can not afford them anymore usually work in informal education bodies despite their efforts to find better earnings. The rest of them rely on their parents until they find a suitable livelihood, while taking some courses that might help to improve their résumés.
As a small contribution on this predicament, I personally have been giving free private English lessons to some friends of mine (though only two of them remain) since November 2009. I doubt that conventional English courses would help them as much private lessons because, despite their price and quality, one class consists of many students. This fact occludes teachers to build a strong foundation in each student. Therefore, I suggest that youth with high English skills teach at least one friend freely (or in exchange of other skills, such as cooking) and then ask them to teach their friends, forming an endless flow of help.
On the other hand, the ones with merely senior high school certificates or lower education level face more complicated problems. Most of them are trapped in low-payment jobs or not working at all, thus they have very little chance to make a difference in their life. Housekeepers are paid lower than $2 per day of which they still have to share it with their family (in Indonesia, it is common that the number of dependant family members is at least equal to the productive ones), and the home-in housekeepers are paid only slightly higher than $2 per day. Other available options are being shopkeepers or food sellers under the wing of small organization or individual owners with small payment ranges from $2 up to $7 per day. Still, Indonesian population has a considerable density that even these cheap jobs can not contain all young people.
I strongly think that one of the biggest problem with youth unemployment among the poorly educated young people is they do not know what to do. That is why they have no gut to organize any business, or even if they do, they do not know how to generate some capital and how to run it well. It is also occluded by the fact that many of them are internet dull, using the web only to interact with their friends in social networking sites and rarely look for any information to improve their life.
Youth with some entrepreneurship experience can help them by conducting a free seminar on small scale business. The seminar should be as simple as possible in order to avoid the possibility that they would think it is too complicated for them and no further progress should be made. Initially, they should be told that they can start any small business by doing what they are already capable of, for example a catering for she who loves cooking, a small garage for he who loves automotives, or a books and comics rental for they who love reading. Another important point is giving them a little basic knowledge of business management. Finally, they have to understand the procedures of how to get a small business credit and permission. Materials used in the seminar can be copied to be distributed to a wider audience, and to be compiled in a blog to reach anyone in a national scale.
However, small scale business is also an answer to youth unemployment among university graduates. Actually, if they do not stubbornly insist on waiting to be employed in the offices, they can launch their own businesses. Concludingly, efforts in tackling youth unemployment should be focused on small scale business.
4. A Solution for Young Women with Children
Those with the most difficult situation are young women who have children. Many poorly educated women in Indonesia had been married before they were twenty, as my mother did. Many of them are married to men with low earnings. Worse as it is, they soon have babies whom they can not provide with a good living. When their husbands do not make considerable improvements related to their standard of living, these young women can barely look for some extra money since their little ones would be neglected. In addition, their husbands’ low income can not provide decent amount of capital and they own nothing to raise any.
A solution is urgently needed. What can they do without neglecting their babies or raising too much capital? Just look at their problem: children. So I propose the Children Care Center (CCC).
Indonesian middle class society has an increasing necessity of children care facility, yet CCCs are still rare and charge high prices in big cities. Therefore, parents are obliged to leave their children with housekeepers, extended families, or neighbors. Worst of all, a friend of mine used to spend his whole afternoon as a boy home alone until his mother arrived on 6 pm.
Problems would occur when the housekeepers consider children care as an additional burden or do not know how to take care of them well, and hence these children are not taken care of properly. Surprisingly, a research shows that children taken care by a non-family member (such as neighbors, housekeepers, or babysitters) will be more aggressive and disobedient. As another option, extended families may not always be credible or available, and who knows they actually are objected to help, especially for a long term. Lastly, leaving children home alone is always dangerous.
Compared to other types of children care, there are some advantages of CCC related to children development which will make this business has a good prospect. In CCCs, children have a bigger chance to interact with their peers naturally and in controlled activities, thus they become more sociable, tolerant, and independent. Furthermore, unlike the sole unmonitored baby sitter, leaving your children in CCC is also safer because there are some people in one time supervising your children and overseeing each other’s attitude.
Now, let me elaborate how children care center would be a solution to this particular group of youth. First of all, they already have the necessary skills. These young women have their own babies, thus it would be easy for them to take care of other children. Other needed skills, such as cooking and cleaning, are also common among housewives. Secondly, they can use their own houses as the CCC to avoid raising unaffordable capital. Most important of all, it is something they can do without having to neglect their own babies as they can also bring them to the CCC. Moreover, the President stated that small businesses (in household scale) do not need any permission from the authority . That means establishing a CCC will not give them a chance to worry about its procedure.