Experts tip government on how to achieve improved human resource amidst job market crisis

Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, the Director General National Population Council, giving a key note address

Monday, November 13, 2017
Uganda Bureau of Statistics

By UYAHF Writer

One of Uganda’s unsolved issues that every politician while canvassing for votes promises to address is unemployment among the youth. Before assuming offices, this problem seems quite easy to solve until one faces reality; that the problem is far from having an immediate solution.

This is because the population seeking employment is bigger than the job market can absorb.This is also known as demographic dividend which arises out of a fast decline in fertility and mortality  resulting into a large cohort of economically active people, which in turn creates an opportunity for accelerated economic growth. However, this assumes that the burgeoning economically active population can be absorbed into the labour market through gainful employment and subsequently contribute to production.

Being absorbed into the labour market has a component of education and skills while those who have not acquired education be absorbed in the informal sector.  UYAHF organized a the national youth symposium on implementation of the African Union Roadmap on Harnessing the demographic dividend through investment in young people at Uganda Bureau of Statistics conference hall to have expert opinions about the topic.

Fagil Mandy an educational expert believes that Uganda’s current education system cannot solve the demographic dividend problem. He believes that the curriculum needs to be overhauled so that students do not only learn what they are supposed to be taught in particular syllabi but they also be in position to express themselves.Mandy noted that many of the graduates in Uganda are not confident enough to sit for oral interviews and therefore this renders their academic papers as irrelevant even when they performed well in school.

“We should have a type of education that is skilled related. It’s not a matter of taking people to the university and go through theoretically, otherwise the government will fail to absorb the population.”

According to National Planning Authority (NPA) statistics released in March 2017, 700,000 people join the job market every year regardless of qualification but only 90,000 get something to do, this translates to 87 per cent of people ready to work but can’t find a job.

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) records show that there are 47 universities, nine of which are public, nine degree-awarding institutions and 207 other tertiary institutions. All these send their students into the world of work annually, where they find thousands of other graduates floating without what to do.

UYAHF Team Leader, Patrick Mwesigye, noted that the youth need to be skilled in a way that they are job creator instead of seekers. He noted that the government needs to strengthen the vocational schools in areas where they exist and establish new ones where they don’t. We as a youth organisation also believe that the government can still do something for those who are beyond school."We have seen the government come up with various programmes for the unemplyed youth, but these interventions have been swallowed by the corrupt people within the system. i belive that if corruption was fought, the youth would get more employment chances."he said

Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, the Director General National Population Council noted that whereas Uganda’s fertility rates have reduced from 6.2 children in 2011, to 5.4 in 2016, this is still high compared to the rate of labour absorption space.

Musinguzi noted that the government needs to embark on economic reforms to create jobs. “The demographic game changer is in family planning, promote child survival, education especially for girls and planned urbanization and management.” he said

Tasha Balunywa, the National Planning Authority director of Strategic Planning noted that the government has established programmes for the youth in informal sector. She noted that although these programmes such as the Youth Livelihood programme face challenges in implementation, many of the youth have benefited and have been employed.This in part can be attributed to the increased uptake of family planning; which saw the unmet need for family planning reduce from 38 percent in 2006 to 34 percent in 2011. Similarly, great strides have been achieved in reducing mortality- particularly child and infant mortality.

Although Uganda narrowly missed out on achieving the Millennium Development Goals-MGD targets on infant and child mortality, it has made good progress in ensuring that more children are able to survive to adulthood. The infant mortality rate was estimated at 53 deaths per 1000 live births in 2014, an improvement from 87 deaths per 1000 live births in 2002 and 122 in 1991.

The under five-mortality rate was estimated at 80 deaths per 1000 live births in 2014, an improvement from 156 deaths per 1000 in 2002 and 203 in 1991 (UBoS 2016). However, Mwesigye notes that there is need for the government to increase family planning usage especially by teenage girls to further reduce on infant mortality rates.

“More infants are dying because their mothers aren’t ready to have children. Their bodies and minds are still fragile. Girls should be given an option to either have children or prevent pregnancies using contraceptives.” he said

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