The Victoria University 3rd Public Dialogue on Youth Unemployment and Good Urban Governance in Uganda was held on Friday 17th June 2016 and attended by over 300 youth who showed commitment to developing their skills, but had a negative attitude towards self-employment, utilizing technology and especially mobile technology for seeking employment opportunities, did not know or understand the attempts of government to develop youth employment programs and are not eager or fill excluded to participate in the policy decisions that impact their lives.
“The youth employment crisis is one of the greatest perils facing the global economy today. Young people around the world – in industrialized, emerging and developing economies alike – face acutely high levels of unemployment, low wages, poor working conditions, and obstructed pathways to economic mobility” says David Kasimbazi Program Coordinator Centre for Urban Governance & Development at Victoria University.
David Kasimbazi said ”Young people’s lack of access to quality employment is both a short-term and long-term threat. High levels of joblessness among youth today are an imminent hazard to social and political stability – especially as the gap between young people’s education levels and aspirations, and the actual opportunities that await them in the labour market grows”.
CHALLENGES AND ASPIRATIONS FACING THE YOUTH IN UGANDA
The youth in Uganda want to start and grow businesses, secure employment, learn and apply new skills, contribute to their families and communities, and participate in the decisions that affect their lives.
They face low levels of education and work, inadequate appropriate skills for the job market, precarious and informal work, and social exclusion because of lack of civic knowledge and competencies, limited engagement by state actors while designing youth programs and perception that jobs on market are not for them especially those from university.
The youth do not recognize the skills gap between education and employment. They are not taking proactive steps to develop employment and entrepreneurship skills through volunteering, and accessing skills through mobile and information and communication technology (ICT).
KEY ISSUES ARISING FROM THE DIALOGUE:
Government and Private Sector influence on youth employment
Government policy on private sector led economy has not yielded enough jobs for youthful Uganda population much as it has created a conducive environment for private sector-led investment.
Taking advantage of Information Communication Technology (ICT)
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) revolution has swept across the country as evidenced by vastly improved telecommunications and internet infrastructure, mobile communications penetration rates, and emergence of innovative information technology applications industry. The spread of ICTs is clearly linked to civic engagement on the part of youth.
Promoting local entrepreneurship and employment opportunities
Many of the youth at the dialogue had a positive perception of self-employment, despite the challenges they meet, including high taxes, bureaucratic business registration requirements, unaffordable credit, and group conflicts.
The mismatch between knowledge acquired by the young people and job opportunities
The majority of young people at the dialogue recognized the mismatch between the skills gained from formal education and those needed to find work.
Perception and mindset
The tendency of youth relying on the decision of parents, government etc. has eroded their independence in decision making created lack of curiosity to know what employment opportunities are available in the job market.
THE DIALOGUE CONCLUSIONS
There are limited employment opportunities available to urban youth due lack of vocation skills and relevant skills to the demand of the job market
Young people are willing to start their own businesses but majority have a negative perception towards innovation and lack information on available opportunities.
The youth to constructively use mobile technology as it has the potential to not only improve access to information but also generate employment
There is a mismatch and gaps between well-intentioned government youth programs and the youth they are intended to reach because of government not engaging the youth in the decision making process.
Focus on income generation, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities
Provide the youth with opportunities to secure financing for new businesses, the documentation required by financial institutions should be convenient and easy to access.
Skilling youth for the job market
The Government, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders should prioritize equipping the youth with market- driven vocational and entrepreneurial skills.
Role of the private sector and government on youth economic opportunities
It was recommended that employers offer job-specific training to the youth when they are hired. The private sector should consider investing in youth with on-the-job training and ongoing mentorship, in order to enable youth to take up meaningful roles within these businesses.
The role of Information Communication Technology
Emerging technological innovations can provide the youth with more economic and livelihood opportunities. There is need for improvements in infrastructure and connectivity, especially in urban areas where the youth are flocking.
Lack of access to training and business opportunities
Government, private sector and civil society should work with communities to address barriers affecting youth economic opportunities such as gender beliefs, and land ownership practices. Improvements in these areas could go a long way in addressing the key economic challenges that face youth in Uganda.
The engagement and involvement of youth in decision making
The youth should be engaged at different levels of decision making on issues that affect them directly. They should be more connected, empowered and impactful channels of decision making that allow them to present their challenges and obtain feedback in a timely manner.
Young people require not only jobs, but career pathways
Provide not just a job today, but an employment opportunity that presents them with a route toward a productive adult life.
Youth interest must inform job creation strategies
All youth development programs aimed at improving youth employment outcomes must be aligned with the hopes and ambitions of young people.
Coherent policy and effective coordination of youth programs
As government, civil society, and the private sector are all crucial in addressing the youth employment crisis, coordination among them is imperative.
Advocacy for improving youth employment opportunities
There is need for government to play a central role of collective bargaining in giving youth a platform to voice their work-related grievances and advocate for better employment.
Introduction of vocational training system (Apprenticeships)
Apprenticeships are a vastly underused training model in Uganda, largely as a result of lack of awareness of their benefits. The successful expansion of apprenticeships indicates that, when businesses know the benefits, they are eager to sponsor apprentices.