Wednesday November 3 2010

Lack of skills a challenge to employers

By Joseph Miti & Al Mahdi Ssenkabirwa

Although Uganda is in dire need of a skilled labour force to enhance productivity, the country’s bank of unskilled labour is growing at an alarming rate of 3.7 percent rate per annum, a new report has revealed.

The State of Uganda’s Population Report (SUPRE) says the Ugandan labour force has a low level of training, with most people having only completed elementary schooling.
The report says nearly one in every five economically active women in Uganda has no formal education and hence females are highly represented in the relatively unskilled segment of the labour force.

Women challenged
“Women are less likely than men to work for pay even after controlling factors such as education, marital status, family size and presence of small number of children,” the report says. The report says education not only increases the likelihood of wage employment in general, but also increases the likelihood of employment in high wage sectors.

“The central region has a relatively skilled labour force with the higher concentration of workers (36 per cent) who have completed at least upper secondary education. The region with the lowest level of human capital is the western region where nearly a quarter of the labour force has no formal education,” the report reads in part.

The report, compiled under a theme: “Population and Sustainable Development: Emerging Challenges, Opportunities and Prospects”, was launched in Kampala a fortnight ago.

On labour force distribution, SUPRE says, there is a presence of high number of workers in low paying sectors and the general lack of structural transformation in the economy.

It cited unemployment, underemployment, lack of skills, a poor culture towards work, gender relations, inadequate and poor state of economic infrastructure as some of the factors which contribute to the low productivity level in Uganda.
Other factors include lack of traditional cultures and systems, lack of modern and appropriate technologies, lack of land and other factors of production.

It says Tanzanian labour productivity is 28 percent higher than that of Uganda. Also, it adds that in spite of Uganda’s economic recovery from the downturn of the 1970s and 80s; the country’s size and per capita income are still very low, compared to other economies in Africa and Asia.

“While Uganda’s economic performance was at par with that of countries such as Kenya, Ghana, South Korea and Malaysia in the early 1970s, these economies have since improved significantly over Uganda’s economy,” the report adds.

The report additionally revealed that Uganda’s population structure, which is comprised of mainly dependant youth, will remain unproductive for the next 15 years.

It recommends that the government invests in its youthful and unproductive population if the country is to develop its human capital.

The report cites low labour force participation, high unemployment, underemployment, low incomes, low productivity levels, high growth of unskilled labour, low female education levels and rising income inequality as challenges of a high population growth rate.

At least 1.2 million Ugandans are born every year.

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