Saturday December 16 2017

Why skilling informal sector is vital

Gideon Badagawa, the PSFU executive director

Gideon Badagawa, the PSFU executive director 

By Joseph Kato

Different studies conducted show that agriculture; transport, construction and manufacturing are leading sectors employing more than 80 per cent of Ugandans.
However, such sectors, accordingly lack skilled personal, which according to Private Sector Foundation Uganda works against economic progress.
Therefore, according to Gideon Badagawa, the PSFU executive director, there is need for skilling people in such sectors most of whom are jua-khalis (low skilled labourers), in order to create a tangible flow of progress.

“People in the informal sector such as agriculture are many but lack entrepreneurship and business skills,” he says, which as he adds has forced PSFU through a World Bank grant of Shs80b to come in to train jua-khalis attain some progressive skills.
The programme will be handled under PSFU’s Skills Development Facility headed by Ruth Musoke.

According to Musoke, the jua-khali will first undergo training on business and entrepreneurship management before they can access the grant.
The programme targets to train more than 16,000 youth and women within the next four years. So far more than 2,000 have been trained.
“When we talk of skills development we mean giving necessary and vital tools to jua-khalis such as ICT in business, financial management and record keeping,” she says.
More than 80 per cent of Uganda’s labour force is unproductive, which according to Badagawa, drags back the otherwise progressive government programmes.

“People are on jobs just for survival. They do not envisage turning themselves into bigger entities. A farmer focuses on earning money for survival, the same mindset is in manufacturing and construction. We can change this by training people in these sectors,” he says.
This, Musoke explains, requires for such interventions, especially for youth and women to create for them sustainable income generating ventures.
“When they acquire the necessary skills, they will make a meaningful contribution to the economy,” she says.


Zelda Ssentumu Namutebi, the secretary of Ttula Juice Group in Kawempe, has been a beneficiary of the programme and although she is yet to put the skills she has acquired to use, she thinks the programme will improve the life style of people in the informal sector.
“I started with my son who had dropped out of school and I was later joined by other youth. However, our juice business has not been giving good profits as one would expect. We think we lacked knowledge on improving quality and looking for buyers. We hope to improve because we have acquired some knowledge,” she says.

Martha Otim, a member of Kinawataka Wives of Soldiers Association, is another beneficiary of the programme and hopes the training will help her improve her bakery business so as to compete favourably.
According to Badagawa training jua-khalis would not only improve their quality of life including those around them, but also provide knowledge on quality improvement, maintenance, environment protection, property sustainability and economic growth.
Musoke says more than 2,000 jua-khali groups have applied to benefit from the grants but only those that meet the requirements shall be considered.