By Dominic Savio Nkuubi, RA 2018 Cohort Fellow
The global youth unemployment rate is on the rise with about 40% of the World’s unemployed. The youths are three times more likely to be unemployed compared to the adults. 25% of the young people in the world cannot find jobs paying at least $1.25 per day rendering them victims of poverty.
Youth unemployment rates in sub Saharan Africa double those of adult unemployment for both men and women. According to World Bank 11 million youths will enter the labor market in sub Saharan Africa each year for the coming decade.
Youth unemployment in Uganda is due to low employability skills possessed by graduates that don’t enable them to favorably compete for the limited jobs in the labor market. Some students graduate from school with little or sometimes no knowledge of what they are supposed to do with the education they have attained.
Youth unemployment is also caused by lack of working experience that is demanded by majority of the employers in the job market. Many of the youths don’t possess the working experience and have not actively involved themselves in activities that help them attain the experience such as volunteering, interning, free lancing among others.
High expectations of many youth with a mentality of getting rich fast and in an easy way. They end up despising low paying jobs and end up being unemployed.
The government of Uganda through the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, it has come up with schemes such as the Uganda graduate volunteer scheme aimed at enhancing youth employability as well as bridging their transition to work
The government through the Ministry of Education and Sports introduces a skills based paper of entrepreneurship education at the advanced level when students are trained different skills like detergent making, chalk making, Vaseline among others which they can use to start up small scale businesses to fight youth unemployment.
The government has also given ‘handshakes’ to the youths as a way of providing them with startup capital to start up or boost their businesses to fight unemployment. Including the recent one where the president gave the youths in Kamokya 100 million shillings as startup capital.
In order to address the problem of youth unemployment in Uganda, the government should come up with programs targeting youths both fresh graduates and those who are about to graduate. These programs should be designed to offer effective mentorship to the youth on how to best develop their skills and how best they can signal these skills to the employers.
This is because besides lack of skills and competencies that are demanded by the employers, youths also lack information on which skills are being demanded by the employers and how to channel these skills to the prospective employers. Therefore through such programs youths can get to know which skills are demanded by employers, where and how to access them and how to link up with the employers who need them.
Government should also come up with a policy of compulsory industrial training of at least 6 months at the end of every program at higher institutions of learning. This can help fresh graduates have a feel of the working environment and have knowledge of what exactly is demanded by employers
A compulsory skills foundation course should be attached to every program at higher levels of learning to equip students with skills such as catering and bakery, tailoring, hair dressing and cosmetology, carpentry among others. These can help youths earn a living after graduation even before attaining their professional jobs.
Youths should also take an initiative to learn entrepreneurial skills such as soap making, crafts making among others. These can help them initiate small scale businesses which they can further develop to create themselves jobs as well as employing others