By Hanning Babyetsiza, 2018 Cohort Fellow
Uganda has one of the highest youngest and most rapidly growing populations in the world. Currently, youths’ unemployment statistics are estimated at 9.4% or there about and about 400,000 youths are released annually into the labor market to compete for approximately 10,000 available jobs. This youthful population is Uganda’s greatest human capital, however the question is, how can it be properly nurtured and supported?
The biggest challenge is that about 30% of the youths who are institutionally qualified in Uganda are unable to find jobs and the situation is even worse for the semi-skilled and unskilled youths. As a result, those who remain unemployed and or underemployed and those who fail to exploit their potential, quite often they get associated with high incidences of drug abuse, gambling, or even start terrorizing the society.
However I believe this whole issue of unemployment can be done away with or at least be reduced through some of the following ways:
- Facilitating youths policy engagement:
In Uganda the problem is that most times, the participation of the youths in developmental community dialogues is limited. The government or the state institutions usually ignore this and yet this would ensure the youths and other affected persons take part in informing policy development. They would be able to raise issues that affect them and even suggest solutions which then would be implemented. Therefore I am of the view that the issue of youths participation in community engagements should treated with high regard if the high unemployment rates are to reduce
- Need to refocus or reform and or redesign Youth Development Plans:
Another problem that has increased youths unemployment in Uganda is the development plans set up by the government. These plans are often not first scrutinized as to whether they are effective or not. As such, these plans must be varied, relevant and consolidated, with care taken to avoid duplication. Projects and plans like the youths livelihood program must avoid dependency models (grants and handouts), and resist a narrow focus on income generation. There is a greater need to prioritize bigger projects and skill development that reflects present market needs. This can be done through investing in vocational training so that the youth can acquire skills that will make them job makers rather than job seekers.
- Reviewing or reforming education curriculum
In order to address issues of unemployment in Uganda, there is need to review the national curriculum of education that is including education focused on entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy, savings, and the thrifty use or utilization of the limited available resources.
- Focusing on opportunities for job creation:
Most times, the national budget has not provided for job creation opportunities especially for the growing young population. More so the Government of Uganda must also focus and ensure that there are better incentives for youths employment. For instance, this can be done through ensuring that all investors who are given benefits such as tax holidays employ a certain number of Ugandans in their businesses.
Generally, there is a need career training programs should be given a clear thought so that the youths are able to understand the situation at hand in order to start determining their career at an early stage.