High youth unemployment in Uganda – TVET and workforce development is addressing this challenge

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Youth unemployment remains a serious challenge in Uganda.

A fast-growing labour force (4.7% per year), inadequate investment and supply of jobs, and a lack of skills are key issues preventing youth employment.

Uganda ag workforceWith the potential to add 10 million workers into the market by 2020, Uganda is implementing programs aimed at creating employment specifically for youth. Industry focussed workforce development strategies could enhance these programs and employment outcomes.

Agriculture employing up to 66% of labour force

Agriculture is the main sector of employment in Uganda – providing jobs to 66% of the entire workforce, compared to 28% in the services and industrial sectors.

But despite the massive youth employment in agriculture, less than 5% are paid to do this work.  The majority are engaged as family workers or informal employment accounts, with no wages.

In 2011, informal employment equated to 95% of youth in agriculture jobs. Pretty alarming statistics.

Productivity is an issue, too.  The labour potential is heavily under utilised and pay is low, so the discussion is not only on helping youth get into work, but also creating the reality of employment.

The challenge, according to World Bank’s Senior Economist for Uganda, is to manage the labour force’s transition from a predominant involvement in low productivity subsistence agriculture to increased involvement in higher productivity manufacturing and services.

In other words, transforming the local labour force from low productivity activities to a more capital-intensive outcome.

Building skills and equipping labour with knowledge

The Business, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) Strategic Plan 2011-2020 denotes a paradigm shift for skills development in Uganda.

The aim is for the TVET system to emerge from an educational sub-sector into a comprehensive system of skills development for employment, enhanced productivity and growth.

In recent years, the Government of Uganda (GoU), with the World Bank and the Government of Belgium, created the Strategic Plan 2011-2020, “Skilling Uganda”- addressing major challenges of TVET including relevance, quality, access & equity, management and financial sustainability.

The plan aims to create employable skills and competencies relevant to the labour market.  The new TVET system intends to embrace all Ugandans in need of skills, including, but not only, primary and secondary school leavers.

The Plan calls for a broader scope of TVET in terms of target groups and occupations in response to the Ugandan labour market.  Adjustments in programme delivery to improve competence levels of graduates, as well as modifications in the organisational and management setup are part of the scope.

Uganda is continuing to partner with training institutions to help the country access relevant and up-to-date skills for faster development.  Creating quality jobs is a challenge for the Ugandan government, but implementing such policies and strategies to ensure inclusive growth will help the country reach middle-income status.

Improving the TVET sector  

The iEmpowerment approach is helping build capacity for community health workers and developing skills.  Offering a technology platform for data collection, skills & education development plus local employment, iEmpowerment is a new model of development and capacity building.

It can help bring industries, the education sector and government of Uganda closer.  Workforce Blueprint has aided capability development to see a similar approach roll out in the Maldives… while the Zimbabwe Government is currently initiating the program as well.

Workforce development can help build youth skills, so they can better face the challenges of the modern world.  If you would like to learn more about the capability building program in the Maldives and customised workforce development strategies for your industry or region, please contact Wendy via wendy@wb.switchstartscale.com.au.

October 2015




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