Upon recognizing that youth lack employable skills that are relevant in the current job market, government in 2008 embarked on Business, Technical and Vocational Training (BTVET) to train and educate all individuals in need of relevant skills that would raise their productivity and income. The Uganda National Labour Force Survey (UNLFS) 2016/17 revealed that the working age population (14-64 years) was estimated at nearly 19 million and the employed population was about 9.0 million. However, even with the rebranding under “Skilling Uganda” in 2012/13, the enrolment dropped extremely from 63,209 in 2016 to 45,153 in 2017 according to Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2018. The question remains; why is vocational education typically associated with good employment outcomes around the world getting limited in delivering similar results for Uganda in spite of the huge investments? The answer perhaps lies in understanding the major Labour workforce categorization and enhancing it’s potential.
Of the five existing workforce generations in Uganda namely; The Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (Y) and Generation Z, the Millennials dominate the workforce majorly in Uganda. If Uganda is to become a middle-income country in the near future, it is important that Millennials, estimated at 6.5 million working youths are engaged in meaningful and paid work. Important work policies targeting Millennials should be imbedded in public policy dealing with the youth unemployment question. These policies should include; – 1) Attracting youth with flexible work schedules, training-and-development opportunities. 2) Designed programs that foster mutual support by offering soft-skills training on assimilating into a new workplace culture, developing mechanisms to process work performance related feedback, how to approach a supervisor for coaching and mentoring and how to set long-term career goals. 3) Retaining youth by creating a work culture that is open, fun and relaxed boosts their creativity and engages them longer at workplaces.
In conclusion, Millennials desire work environment that enable them to meaningfully contribute to the economy’s growth through taxation as has been seen in some developed countries like Germany with her vocational skilling programs.
Written by Sandra Namarome, Youth4Policy fellow 2019