• Authored By: Alon Mwesigwa
14 Jun 2021

It is going to be a lot harder for young people to transition from school to work, thanks to disruptions occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Dr Sarah Ssewanyana, the executive director of the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), the pandemic has meant job disruptions, disruptions in the education sector and training with the second lockdown, difficulties in an already hard transition from school to work.

She was speaking on June 11, 2021, at a virtual dialogue organized by the INCLUDE Platform to discuss Uganda’s path to recovery under the theme “Uganda’s way: youth employment and participation post-COVID”.

She noted that regardless of covid-19 impact, 41% of youth were engaged in crop farming, 21% in livestock while manufacturing contained only six percent.

With the onset of Covid-19, there were reductions in the share of people in certain sectors – manufacturing, trade, transport and those working hotels and restaurants.

Meanwhile, the number of young people in crop growing went up.

“It’s not by choice but people were forced because of the lockdown at that time. Construction saw more youth there,” Dr. Ssewanyana said.

There are more women in crop farming, Ssewanyana indicated noting women appear to be hard hit by the pandemic.

Martin Wandera, the Commissioner Labour at the Ministry of Labour Gender and Social Development, said their own rapid assessment has shown that 57% of the companies interviewed had halted recruitment that they had been planned prior to covid-19.

“About 2.9million workers were temporarily or permanently laid off. One in every 4 youths aged 18 to 30 lost a job,” he said, quickly outlining interventions being made to stimulate demand for workers.

These include the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP), Uganda Women Entrepreneurs programme and support of the private sector through recapitalization of Uganda Development Bank (UDB).

“We note that we have done those jobs just don’t happen. You might have growth but without creating sufficient jobs. The ministry is therefore developing the first-ever job growth strategy to give direction to the country’s growth,” Wandera said.

The second one was the sectoral analysis based on the first study and we’re trying to identify sectors with high employment, high growth, and high employment potential. The strategy will give direction to the country in giving opportunities to young people.

Jeroen Vlutters, the First Secretary of Economic Cooperation at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Uganda, urged a clear focus on private sector development to be able to employ more people.

HE noted there was a “substantial gap between the skills young people acquire from school and the needs the private sector has. There should be better alignment of the private sector, government, and education institutions to make it better.”

From a government side, he said “we need to figure out what the effects of the current tax system are and especially the enforcement and the lifespan of government and the ability to grow. The government needs to look for ways to incentivize businesses to move from the informal to the formal sector. It’s quite unchartered territory.”

Featured photo credit: Enabel Uganda

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