I am being compelled to take this pain off my chest and express my views about youth unemployment both in Uganda and world over. For a very long time Unemployment has been a challenge to many nations all over the world. This challenge got worse when the Credit Crunch hit the world economy, as a result Companies started down sizing their employees so as to survive and Governments efforts to employ the youths greatly dwindled.
Its very shocking that since 2007 the situation has just worsened than improving. The United Nations through the International Labor Organization just predicted that by end of this year there will be 74.2 million unemployed youths. This is an increase of 3.8 million youths since 2007. Irrespective of what the situation is, Uganda and Africa still has the potential to employ its youths only if a few reforms are made as I suggest a head in this article.
You can agree or disagree with me that the problem of Youth Unemployment starts immediately students reach University. These university students go through a hell of time seeking internship placements in organizations. After a series of several applications written on University headed papers some still go without Internship placements. This is where the real problem begins as these youths morally and mentally lose hope of being employed even after University. At the same time they start to slowly but steadily lose hope in the current education system.
Many of the few lucky ones in most cases have a series of connections which makes it easy to be placed in different organizations for industrial training.
This is where the music begins to sound noisy because most of the connections used to access jobs are either attached to high ranking officials or to people in political offices. Due to the lost hope many youths in Uganda and all over the world start to think that Only politics can solve their problems hence they get lured by politicians to join different political circles magnifying the unemployment problem to even greater heights( The reason for the so many recent political riots and chaos).
Way Forward for Uganda and Africa at Large
Education System Reforms
The government and all education stake holders have a challenge of carrying out education reforms and create a system that is suitable for our job markets. It does not make much meaning to teach courses that the job market does not cater for. In my own view world over every country and continent have different economic activities that are major job creation sectors. For the case of Uganda its the Agriculture sector which means government needs to put more emphasis on this sector so as to create more jobs through processing industries. In addition let the universities teach courses that will encourage the culture of Job creation than the current Job Seeking culture.
Set up Clear and Strong Youth Employment Policies
In order for government to tame this problem of youth unemployment, proper and clear policies have to be set up and followed vigilantly. For example how many fresh graduates does government employ in its ministries and other sectors every year.
Its been known through out history that Agriculture is the back bone of Uganda and many of the African countries. Therefore its through the development of this sector that other sectors will develop for example the Manufacturing, Banking and Insurance sectors. There government investments in Agriculture will slowly but steadily promote the growth of other sectors than inviting more investors to set up manufacturing industries whose raw materials are just imported. Foreign investors who set up manufacturing industries do not have potential to employ reasonable numbers of Ugandan Youths due to the high costs incurred during importation of raw materials.
Monetary Policy Reforms
Its very important to know that when I talk about monetary policy I am addressing myself to the controller of the monetary inflow and outflow in the economy. For Uganda's case I am driving my suggestion to the Bank of Uganda. Straight to the point, Every single month I hear the Guvnor or his deputy reading the inflation rates but no Unemployment rates. Since this metric of measuring the unemployment rates is always ignored so money is sometimes put into projects that do not benefit the job industry. Its at this point that I suggest to the Bank of Uganda to seriously include and follow up on the metric of Unemployment rates in Uganda.
I strongly feel if the above four issues are looked into the future of Ugandan and Africans at large will greatly improve as more jobs will be created and investors spending less on imported raw materials hence employing more youths in Uganda.
BSci.Finance Makerere University Business School