Employment Policies for Uganda: Young Leaders' Perspectives

A Study Conducted by the Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives

The members of the Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives have worked intensively on the topic of (un)employment in Uganda with particular focus on the challenges for the youth. Based on an analysis of the situation and the existing policies, the members have discussed and formulated policy recommendations that could help in addressing challenges of youth (un)employment in the country. The paper analyses the given context, legal framework and existing policies and outlines the policy recommendations from the perspective of the young generation.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Youth (un)employment is a prevalent problem in 21st Century Uganda. A 2010 International Labour Organisation (ILO) report reveals that the share of unemployed youth among the total unemployed persons in the country is as high as 83%. Youth (un)employment, therefore, poses a serious political, economic and social challenge to the country and its leadership. The persistence of this problem is also partly contributing to Uganda’s slow progress towards meeting some of its Millennium Development Goals.

In this publication, the Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives presents an in-depth analysis of the problem of youth (un)employment and also offers viable policy alternatives that can alleviate it.

This publication will be beneficial to key policy makers and implementers since it clearly portrays the interests of the young generation in policy issues and also strengthens the need for national policy consultations involving them. Some of the salient facts about employment in Uganda as adopted from a cross-section of reports are as follows:

The Ugandan labour force consists of persons aged between14 to 64 who are either employed (in paid employment, self-employed and unpaid family workers) or unemployed (without work and available for work).

Currently the Uganda labour force is estimated to be 9.8 million for persons aged 14-64 years, of which 53% are female. About 75% of the labour force is below 40 years.

About 85% of the labour force is based in rural areas and about 30% is illiterate.

The current labour force participation rate is at 80%. Participation levels by selected background characteristics show that rural women have higher participation rates than their urban counterparts.

The 2009/2010 Uganda National Household Survey also revealed that the unemployment rate was at 4.2% in 2009/2010 compared to 1.9% in 2005/2006.

The survey also showed that the general proportion of youth (International definition, 15-24 years) rose from 27% in 2005/2006 to 28% in 2009/2010.

On the other hand, the proportion of the youth (national definition, 18-30 years) rose from 44% in 2005/2006 to 48% in 2009/2010.

Some of the major reasons behind the high youth unemployment rate include, among others, the lack of employable skills, access to resources like land and capital among the youth. Critics have also said that young people have a negative attitude towards certain types of work, which has also contributed to their inability to find gainful employment. Besides, existing policies also continue focusing on creating job seekers instead of job creators.

In a 2010 Economic Report of Africa entitled, “Promoting High Level sustainable growth to reduce unemployment in Africa”, the United Nations Economic Forum for Africa noted that African countries can pursue several short-term and long-term policies to achieve the needed structural transformation that generates high growth with increased employment creation. These policies should be based on a comprehensive development planning framework that embodies well designed and implemented macroeconomic and sectoral strategies.

With this in mind, the Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives realises that a single policy strategy has no capacity to effectively resolve the problem of youth (un)employment. Uganda, therefore, needs to adopt a multi-sectoral approach which involves transformation of every sector in the economy, including the education, health transport and the agricultural sectors among others. This approach requires a combination of initiatives which directly involve the state, private sector actors, as well as the mobilisation of civil society to take a proactive interest in addressing the problems presented by youth (un)employment.

Policies and proposals for confronting youth (un)employment should be guided by the underlying issues that explain why youth employment is very low. It is, therefore, important for the Government to extend interventions to raise the quality of basic and higher education. The Government should also provide an environment that cultivates not only academic but also technical and vocational skills development. The Government of Uganda also needs to work in concert with potential employers, interested individuals and young people themselves in developing and implementing initiatives that can avail the youth with employment opportunities and enhance their potential.


INTRODUCTION

The “Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives” is an initiative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung to enhance youth participation in governance and policy formulation in Uganda. The Think Tank is a group of 20 highly qualified and committed young Ugandans who interact and work together on a regular basis in order to analyse policy issues and develop policy alternatives from the perspective of the young generation.

Given its current demographics, Uganda is an extremely young country in international rating and with the high birth rate in the country the population will continue to grow significantly, and young people will make up a growing percentage of the Ugandan population. This development comes with a number of chances and challenges, and whether the chances will be exploited and the challenges be managed well depends heavily on the willingness and ability of political actors to ensure the successful involvement of the growing number of young people in the process of national development and in decision-making. In order to avert negative developments, future policies have to be designed in a way that they ensure sustainability and inter-generational justice.

In this light, the Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives aims at:

Providing a platform for young leaders to discuss policy matters in a constructive and nonpartisan manner;

Enabling young leaders to develop and formulate alternative policy suggestions reflecting the interests and concerns of young Ugandans;

Giving a voice to the young generation by publishing position papers and organising public dialogues;

Strengthening the skills of young leaders in analysing and debating policy issues and formulating and presenting positions;

Encouraging young multipliers to lead by example in focused, issue-related and constructive political interaction and debating.

The members of the Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives have worked intensively on the topic of (un)employment in Uganda with particular focus on the challenges for the youth. Based on an analysis of the situation and the existing policies, the members have discussed and formulated policy recommendations that could help in addressing challenges of youth (un)employment in the country. The recommendations have already been shared with some outstanding experts and policy makers, among them the former German President Prof. Dr. Horst Köhler and the Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah.

In addition, the situational analysis and policy recommendations were presented to the public and discussed with youth representatives, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders at a public held in Kampala on 5th September 2011. The Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives would like to acknowledge the contributions made by members of the public who participated in the public dialogue and whose candid remarks were very relevant in the compilation of this publication. It is the hope of the Think Tank that the paper will provide a basis for a continuous and constructive dialogue on the challenges of youth (un)employment in Uganda and ultimately inspire meaningful employment policies in the near future.

published

Uganda, December 21, 2011

Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives