Accepted Paper:

Youth employment insecurity in Lusaka  


Katherine Gough (Loughborough University)
Francis Chigunta (University of Zambia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores youth employment insecurity in Lusaka. Despite young people being resourceful and entrepreneurial, employment insecurity is widespread and affected by insecurity in other parts of young people’s lives as well as by processes operating at global, national and local levels.

Paper long abstract:

Despite some African countries experiencing high levels of economic growth, this is rarely accompanied by corresponding levels of employment creation leading to 'jobless growth'. Although employment insecurity has long been a feature of many African economies, particularly since structural adjustment programmes were introduced several decades ago, it is becoming increasingly pronounced with young people being especially affected. In this paper we explore young people's employment practices and prospects, and how these are influenced by intergenerationality and intersectionality. Building on both quantitative and qualitative data collected in a low-income settlement in Lusaka, we analyse how young people themselves perceive their own employment situation and the practices they engage in when seeking ways of making a living. Although the prospects of gaining secure employment are slim, we show how resourceful many of the young people are highlighting their agency and entrepreneurial skills. Nevertheless, the work young people engage in tends to be characterised by high levels of insecurity. The paper highlights how the employment insecurity experienced by youth is influenced by processes operating at the global, national and local levels. Furthermore, insecurity in one area of young people's lives is shown to affect their insecurity in other areas, hence employment insecurity cannot be analysed in isolation from housing and household insecurity.

Panel P165
Novel spaces for African youth: creativity, entrepreneurship and political action