Covid-19 leaves 10,000  job seekers grounded 

Thursday September 16 2021
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Travellers are screened for Covid-19 at Entebbe International Airport last year. PHOTO / COURTESY

By Shabibah Nakirigya

Nearly 10,000 people seeking greener pastures abroad remain stuck with various labour recruitment companies that have failed to obtain approvals from training centres through the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD).

The export business was supposed to resume when Uganda emerged from a second hard lockdown in August, but training centres remain closed. 

Mr Babu Sali, the legal adviser of the recruitment companies, yesterday said the continuous closure of the centres has led to a backlog whose implications are being profoundly felt.

“There is a continuous delay and overdue of approvals for migrant workers by the Gender ministry, and it should be noted that labour recruitment industry was among the business which were allowed to resume their operations despite the existence of Covid-19 pandemic,” Mr Sali said, adding:  “The continuous delay and refusal to approve labour recruitment companies has also led to the congestion of workers in the residences were they get them for placements.” 

Mr Sali wants the training centres to be given special dispensation “like medical schools… because they are key in placing job seekers abroad.” 

Mr Zaidi Ssampala, the spokesperson of Uganda Poor Youth Movement, said “recruitment companies have lost a lot of money because the travel period is overdue and they have to take workers for another Covid-19 test before leaving the country.” 

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Need for skilling centres
He consequently requested the Education and Sports minister Janet Museveni to give training centres the green light to “prepare job seekers” because potential employers abroad are keen on such training.  
Mr Martin Wandera, the director of labour from MGLSD, said the ministry “is aware about the issue and is engaging their Health counterparts to see how [training centres] can be allowed to operate” within the current pandemic framework.
Ms Jamila Namuli, 39, is one of the job seekers who has been left stranded. 

She said: “Since June, I have been working on the requirement to go and start working from abroad because I lost my job in the first lockdown, but still the company cannot place me because we did not go for training and this is also a requirement.” 
Ms Clare Asiimwe, a 32-year-old single mother of three, used all her savings in a bid to meet requirements to go abroad. 

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