More than 12,000 students will this week graduate from Makerere University. After three to five years of study, the fresh graduates will have to face a job market that has little to offer. Some employers have complained about the quality of students that universities are churning out, arguing that there is a mismatch between the education institutions and the skills required to perform tasks in the job market.
A Uganda National Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) report released early this month points out that of the more than 15.5 million national labour force (14-64 years), 269,000 are jobless and another 1.4 million people are underemployed.
More data from the Gender ministry indicate that about 400,000 youth are annually released into the job market to compete for about 9,000 available jobs.
In the President’s State-of-the-Nation addresses last year, he revealed that the private sector has a major role in creating jobs. Granted. But Ugandans expect the government to play its role in creating opportunities that graduates can seize. The sad reality is that every year; the number of graduates far outweighs the available job opportunities.
Unemployment seems like an overstated problem but it is one of the country’s greatest challenges and it will determine how fast we can progress into a middle-income society. It is clear that the government’s role in creating jobs has not been effective. We need to question the adequacy of government’s efforts in creating job opportunities for the unemployed population?
For a start, there are hardly any programmes that have been designed to encourage the youth to move into the agriculture and manufacturing sectors yet the two sectors alone have the greatest employment potential.
Government should also consider reviewing the education system by creating a new curriculum that is in line with the technological advances, innovation needs, and a globalised world. This will give learners a relevant and meaningful experience that is in sync with employers’ demands in this fast-changing world.
The government ought to rethink its job creation strategies in line with the education system if we are to achieve substantial economic growth and offer our younger people an opportunity for a better life.