Michael Axmann, Senior Expert in Skills Development Systems at ILO
“You will get the right skills with an apprenticeship!”
Those were my mother’s words when, at the age of 18, I came home with a two-year contract in my pocket for an apprenticeship at a local bank. I’d decided not to go to college right away, because I wanted to get some work experience and start earning some money. Even though I eventually did get my university degree, I still look back on that decision as one of the best career moves I ever made.
We had arrived in China at just about the same time as Typhoon Utor.
Which was a bit of a problem, since our cameraman Damien Riunaud and I had travelled to Shenzhen to board the Singapore-bound APL Boston container ship and produce video footage documenting life at sea.
Founder and CEO of Tapera Bio Industries Limited, he received entrepreneurship training as part of the ILO’s Youth Employment Project in Zambia.
As the sun comes up over Lusaka, a city I share with 2 million others, business is well under way and has been since 3 a.m. The trucks carrying produce from the farms around the city are the first to arrive in the early hours before I wake.
As soon as I do, I am up and out, looking for new contacts and investments to help support and grow my bio-fuel company. Such is the life of a young entrepreneur in this town. Every day is a new opportunity to meet the challenges of keeping a small business alive.
I’m 28 but first started my business in 2006 when I was 21, after being inspired by a TV documentary on renewable energy in Brazil. I put the project on hold for a while to work as an aircraft technician at Zambian Airways Limited. However, they went out of business and I came back to the bio-fuel idea. My alternatives were few, as formal, decent employment opportunities are hard to come by in my country. In fact, a vast majority of young workers are in the informal economy. Continue reading