14 December 2018

Uganda: Government Introduces Volunteer Scheme for Fresh Graduates

Kampala — The Ministry of Labour, Gender and Social Development has introduced a volunteer scheme for the youth fresh from university as a way of fighting unemployment.

Students in their final year at university will be admitted to the programme by applying to the ministry.

Mr Pius Bigirimana, the ministry permanent secretary, said at least 120 youth have enrolled for the programme, which started this month, and they have been attached to various companies according to their areas of specialisation.

"The problem with our education is quite clear. We are not trained on skills but do many theories. That is why most of our institutions produce unemployable graduates. This is why the government has come up with this initiative to skill fresh graduates and get them ready for employment," Mr Bigirimana said.

According to the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics report of 2017/18, between 600,000 and 700,000 youth graduate from various universities but only 5.2 per cent join the labour market.

According to the report, the remaining 94.8 per cent are inadequately skilled to match the demand in the job market.

Currently, 78 per cent of the population is below 30 years and 22.5 per cent between 18 and 30 years.

Mr Bigirimana said this gap could be solved when the youth spend time in volunteer work as a way to experience what is being done.

"Much as the universities have internship programmes, the time spent in the field is not enough. This programme will expose the graduates to their field of work for a period of one year," he said.

Mr Mark Bamweyana, a graduate of Social Work and Social Development from Makerere University, who is one of the pioneer beneficiaries of the programme, said he wants to grow his skills in his area of expertise.

"Many of us from university want to take up quick jobs and begin earning immediately. We spend a lot of time looking for jobs and when we fail to get them, we become frustrated. This is a dream come true for me," Mr Bamweyana said in an interview.

Ms Rosa Malango, the resident coordinator of the United Nations, which is funding the programme, said: "Lack of skills and experience are some of the root causes of unemployment. Therefore, the graduate volunteer scheme will prepare the youth for the future."

Uganda

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