Sunday, July 21, 2024
Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomeBusinessUganda's unemployed graduates held back by skills gap.

Uganda’s unemployed graduates held back by skills gap.

Its 2pm on a Thursday and Julius Abigaba walks into a betting shop in Wandegeya, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda’s capital.

Abigaba, 26, was unlucky last night. He lost his bet of 10,000 shillings ($4) on four English football teams. He could have won 220,000 shillings($90).

“Just one team – Manchester United’s loss to Everton – killed my receipt but today I will bet carefully,” he says.”I can lose today, but tomorrow I will win.” Abigaba, a development studies graduate from Makerere University, is just outside the International Labor Organisation’s 15-24 year-old age range for global youth unemployment, estimated at 73 million.

As a student, he dreamed big – to finish his education, work with a large organisation and, perhaps, earn a good wage. Three years after graduating, there are no jobs, and not even the hope that there will be any soon.

Unemployment is like a headache or a high temperature — unpleasant and exhausting but not carrying in itself any explanation of its cause

In the nearby Planet supermarket, William Mugisha dusts shelves. An environmental science graduate, he counts himself lucky to at least be earning something. “I just wanted an income to live on, however little,” Mugisha says.

Yet strangely the place did not seem crowded. I’m not sure if it was the sheer size ofYouth unemployment in Uganda is the highest in AfricaA recent study, Lost opportunity? Gaps in youth policy and programming in Uganda, published by ActionAid, put youth unemployment at 62%, although the African Development Bank says it could be as high as 83%.

Uganda has the world’s largest percentage of young people under 30 – 78% – according to the to the 2012 State of Uganda population report by the UN Population Fund. Worldwide, there are about 1.2 billion 15- to 24-year-olds. About 200 million are in Africa.

In the past decade, Uganda has experienced strong GDP growth, averaging 7% annually, but this has not generated jobs, a trend seen across the continent. Lack of employment is causing some young people to take risks. Last July, 36 young people, who had been running motorcycle taxis, were burnt to death as they tried to siphon fuel from a truck that had been involved in an accident.

And some young women are taking jobs overseas only to find themselves forced into prostitution, according to Ugandan police. “Every month, we get reports of over 20 Ugandans stranded seeking help. If the figure is multiplied in a year, it comes to over 250 Ugandans stranded abroad every year,” says Moses Binoga, co-ordinator of the Anti-human Trafficking National Task Force.

Other young people are involved in drug trafficking. Dr Paul Nyende, a senior lecturer at Makerere University’s School of Psychology, says young people with nothing to do are more easily lured into crime. “They can easily be lured into drug trafficking on promise of big pay,” he says. “Many young people don’t want to go back to the villages and do farming after campus. They want to stay and enjoy city life.”

Yet the city cannot support them. It is estimated that more than 40,000 young people graduate from Ugandan universities each year. Yet the market can provide only 8,000 jobs annually.

Professor Augustus Nuwagaba, director of Reeve Consults Uganda, believes the problem lies in the education system. He says the country is stuck with the colonial education system that trains students to be clerks, teachers and lawyers. Times have changed, Nuwagaba says, and the country needs metal fabricators, carpenters and mechanics. Foreign investors also bemoan the lack of skilled workers in Uganda.

Lack of skills is a global problem. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says training institutions continue to produce graduates whose skills do not match what the market wants. This mismatch makes it harder to tackle youth unemployment.

“As much as two-thirds of the young population is under-utilised in some developing economies, meaning they are unemployed, in irregular employment – most likely in the informal sector – or neither in the labour force nor in education or training,” says the ILO report Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 – A Generation at Risk.

East African governments that have discovered oil and gas – Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania – are grappling with how to use this to create job opportunities.

The “youth bulge” in Uganda’s population has been recognised by the UN, with skills training and job creation among the targets suggested in drafts for the post-2015 development goals.

In Uganda, the government is attempting to tackle the problem. The 2012-13 budget allocated $10m to the Youth Venture Capital Fund to supply young people with startup capital. The state has also entered into partnerships with private companies to help train young people to set up businesses.

Charles Ocici, executive director of one of those companies, Enterprise Uganda, said: “A young person has got all it takes to start a job. No one should talk about lack of experience … it’s the kind of literature you read and the people you associate with that will determine your success.”

As for Abigaba, he’s still betting on a change in his fortunes.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -spot_img

Most Popular


Recent Comments