Access to long-term internship and apprenticeship opportunities for young people in Uganda may be key to solving the unemployment problem, experts have said.
Dr. Madina Guloba, a research fellow at Economic Policy Research Centre, said there was “need to open and increase apprenticeships within the employment institutions and government to foster learning and transition from school to work.”
She added that “the current internship programmes are short [and may not help learners] and apprenticeship for these guys who have come from training institutions is the way to go”
Dr. Guloba was presenting a status report on youth employment in Uganda at the launch of the Youth Employment and Skills (YES) Pan African Coalition for Transformation (PACT) at ONOMO Hotel in Nakasero Kampala on October 19, 2022.
The PACT is a mechanism for governments and local policymakers to gain information and support from key stakeholders such as the private sector and civil society, as they design and implement innovative policies aimed at generating employment for young people.
The YES PACT will operate as a knowledge-sharing network and offer mutual support and motivation for designing and implementing transformation strategies to address youth unemployment and skills deficit.
At the PACT launch, several people from the public and private sectors, NGOs, Civil society and youth groups attended and deliberated on the best way young can be helped gain relevant skills that match employers’ needs in the country.
Issues like career guidance were pointed out as key ingredients that are missing in most training institutions or if present, they rarely cover critical areas.
“When you are on ground, career guidance is ‘when you take biology, you become a doctor. Is that really what is there,” wondered a participant.
Martin Wandera, the director labour at Ministry of Gender and Labour Development, said the problem has mainly been the size of the economy to absorb all the people coming out of school. To effectively address the unemployment issue, he said, the economy must grow and create jobs. He noted that one thing that has to be unlocked is access to low-cost capital to enable investment and creation of jobs
Dr. Moris Obwona from National Planning Authority, said the structure of Ugandan economy should be studied to establish whether it supports the solutions that are being fronted to solve unemployment.
He said: “How digital ready are some of the components of the economy? We are preparing our human resource for the fourth industrial revolution; we must be mindful of what is happening in the economy itself because employment is in private sector. When you look at agriculture, how far are we with using digital tools?”
“We need another study to find out the digital-readiness of the structure of the economy in absorbing these people.”
The PACT is supported by ACET and for the next foreseeable future will seek to interact with different stakeholders in education and employment sectors to share knowledge on solving unemployment issue in the country.
Uganda’s working age population aged 14-64 years was estimated to be about 21 million in 2019/20. Of these, about 8 million are youth aged 18-30 years. However, only 5 million are actively working or seeking to work, and only slightly more than a half are employed. The rest are unemployed. In particular, more youths are unemployed compared to any other age group, especially among the female youths.