Like in many African countries, Uganda’s population is made of 77% youth and these make the largest percentage of the labour force of the country, and yet the unemployment rate for youth aged 18-30 is 13.3% (as reported by the Palladium).
This means the largest part of the 77% of the national population available for work are unemployed and seeking jobs and for the few that are employed, exploitation is the order of the day at their workplaces.
Unemployment, underemployment and exploitation in this country all have been major problems in many industrial societies. The transition from school to work is a rather complex and turbulent period.
The risk of unemployment, underemployment and exploitation is greater for young people than for adults, and the first jobs are often are used to exploit the youth. They are unstable and rather short-lived. Few young people in this nation have short spells of unemployment during their transition from school to work; however, many often get trapped in unemployment and risk becoming unemployed in the long term.
As per the ILO (International Labor Office) estimates, the estimated Youth Unemployment rate in Uganda in 2020 was 2.9% which is an increase from 2.7% in 2019 (as reported by Statista) and some reports suggest that it now stands at 9.2% and the worst is yet to come as we experience tough times.
Young people are being laid off and disposed of which is alarming if nothing is done by our government and policymakers. More of the young generation (those below the age of 35 years) are yet swim in the effects of unemployment and this nation is likely to lose more of its energetic labour force to either high increased depression rates or high exodus levels to Arab labour markets which put our economy at a capsizing point.
Uganda is losing its energetic labour force to either high increased depression rates or other countries offering better opportunities
High unemployment means a waste of limited resources and decelerates the long-run growth potential of an economy as a result of lower incomes, hence lower aggregate demand and GDP growth rates.
Unemployment among young people beings when they are eligible to work. According to the International Labor Office (ILO), young people are increasingly having trouble when looking for their first job. The sharp increase in youth unemployment and underemployment is rooted in the long-standing structural obstacles that prevent many youngsters in almost all big companies and emerging startups from making a successful transition from school to work hard.
This nation needs to start thinking about the stiff effects of unemployment, underemployment and exploitation have on the economy in the long run. They lead to social problems such as a lack of orientation and hostility towards foreigners which in turn lead to increased social expenditures.
At the societal level, high youth unemployment endangers the functioning of social security systems, which depends on a sufficient number of compulsory payments from workers in order to operate.
Question is, what then can we do about this growing boom in youth unemployment rates?
1. Personalized Support to Help Youth Progress into Employment or Training.
When young excluded people start work, it is important that follow-up support is provided to ensure they are gradually building basic employability skills. Providing ongoing support and training once they are in work helps them retain their jobs and secure ongoing career progression which is also important.
This support will help ensure sustainable employment and the skills necessary to retain a job or re-enter the labour market if faced with a lay-off. The development of employability skills through workplace training opportunities is an important component of the youth development plans any company should have, where they receive health and safety training to help them build self-esteem and confidence.
Improve young people’s access to training that is clearly related to employment outcomes; help them evaluate the economic returns on the degree and certificate programs; ensure appropriate support systems to help them complete their programs.
2. School to Work Programs.
Incorporating work experience elements into high-school and college education programs represents a second strategy for helping young people build initial career credentials. For those who will not immediately continue with higher education, high-school based programs should expand their resources for vocational preparation.
Unfortunately, in many countries, high-school-based vocational tracks are stigmatized, underfunded, and poorly connected to actual job opportunities in the workplace.
Internships have a key role to play at both the secondary and higher education levels; for college students, internships can be scheduled around the regular semester and summer schedule in coordination with a student’s formal education program.
3. Work Experience Programs for Out of School Youth.
For young people outside the school environment, finding access to effective career guidance can be a challenge. As they explore their career options, those who are already in the workforce may alternate periods of work with the pursuit of higher education and training credentials, either by deliberate choice or in response to periods of involuntary unemployment.
Ideally, this process will allow them over time to accumulate skills and experience that give them access to better-paying jobs. Often, however, this process is unstructured and results in some years of “drift” rather than career progress. On a larger note, the government needs to step in.
4. Set Aside a Fund to Boost the Self-employed Young People.
The government through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development should create a youth support fund or government loan with low rates to help give young people in business a push, and a stepping stone to boost their businesses. This will help create capital for young people that want to start or boost their businesses.
Other steps and ideas that can help make a difference and combat today’s alarming rate of youth unemployment may include;
- Lower or cut off Internet taxes
- Boosting job creation and labour demand
- Better preparing young people for the job market
- Illuminating pathways to productive work
- Improving financial well-being, both current and long-term
- Fostering entrepreneurship
Do you have some interesting solutions or ideas you would love to share with us about this topic? Please do, we love to hear what you have to say.
Author: Innocent Jr Robin
Founder/Team Leader PGUganda | Youth Advocate | Student of Laws | Book addict | One Hope, One Dream, One Way | SC Villa