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The job is not job creation

I am anti-job creation. “How’s that possible?” I hear you ask. “Aren’t you someone who spends most of her days doing developmental work?” Yes, that’s me. Now allow me to explain.


The message of job creation is all around me, every single day. I read it in the newspaper and in calls for proposals, on blogs and Facebook posts. I hear it in conversations, radio discussions and TV programmes. Everybody seems to be saying the same thing, whether they are millennials or baby-boomers, entrepreneurs or corporate moguls – it’s all about work, and the world of work, and JOB CREATION.

Our national social narrative is fixated on unemployment and poverty; globally presidents win elections and politicians win popular support based on their promises to create jobs.

When we do focus group research on stakeholder relationship topics or internal communication, I hear a lot about the hiring of immigrants (either from other communities or other countries). Mostly, however, I hear frustration and dissatisfaction from people who are waiting for the jobs that have to be created by someone.


It’s a curious thing, this someone that must create the jobs. I serve on a national small business forum and during one of our meetings last year, a government official, supported by trade union representatives, told me that I had a small business to create jobs. I corrected him, of course, with all due respect: creating jobs is not the reason I, or any of the many entrepreneurs I know, run our businesses.

I am afraid we are setting ourselves up for dismal failure by focussing on creating jobs, noble as the intent might be. I realised this when I came to understand that the questions you ask determine the quality of the answers, and that the intent you set, influences the outcome directly.

In the context of the job creation narrative, it means the following:

We are sending out the wrong message by talking about the wrong thing. Talking about job creation sets the expectation that someone will create a job for you. You just have to sit and wait for it to come. At most, you have to send out a CV. It also gives you the license to complain if you do not get that job. And to want the job someone else has, especially if they are an immigrant, a black guy or a white guy, or someone from another community.

The job creation conversation puts the responsibility for your work on someone else’s shoulders.


Income generation, on the other hand, is a different story – literally, a different narrative.

You don’t need a job to create an income. Other people don’t create income for you – it’s something you do for yourself. It’s something you do by using the opportunities available to you.


Am I talking semantics here? Of course I am, because what I am proposing is shifting the intent, and the message, by shifting the conversation and the words we use. By doing this, I believe, we can start resolving the actual issue, which is people putting food on the table, and living balanced, dignified lives.


Part of the new narrative should be that work is work, your gift to the world. Money is money. You can make it. Generate your living. Make your place in the world. Don’t aspire to be one of those people who are so poor all they have is money.


I can hear the critics: “Oh, this is impossible. How can you ask people who have nothing to do something for themselves?” Here’s my answer: start expecting it from them. As long as we expect “someone” instead of “you” to create the job, no one will. There is enough qualitative (success stories) and quantitative (shifts in poverty stoplights – read more here) evidence that the human spirit can, and want to, expand to its fullest potential.

Contrary to popular believe, “making money” it is not something only entrepreneurs can do. It is a mind-set. Imagine how much more productive companies would be if employees understood they were there to generate an income, and not to do a job. Jobs are not the answer; own income generation is.


Now you know why I am pro own income creation.