Like many young people across Africa, Ugandan youth face the challenge of acquiring appropriate skills and deploying them in achieving their dreams. An essay competition at Kampala International University gave students the opportunity to reflect on this issue and to explore solutions to youth unemployment.
The participation of 15 university students in the essay writing competition in February 2017 in “Your voice matters” project under the FAHAMU-KIU partnership was quite fascinating. In pursuit of social justice, FAHAMU has focused one of its lenses on intellectual engagement with young people to explore solutions to societal challenges in business, agriculture, citizenship, education, environment, governance, migration, culture, peace and security and technology.
The areas covered in the essay competition were relevant, topical and focused on real issues affecting the African peoples. The voices of the youth indeed matter and require utmost support to be heard. This engagement responds to this need and generates strategies to address the emerging issues in the continent. Issues of climate change and environmental conservation, access to capital and entrepreneurship, agriculture and food security, citizenship and the right to nationality, education and professional training, leadership and governance greatly affect Africa. In addition, issues of migration and Africans in the diaspora, religious fundamentalism and culture, the role of peace and security in development as well as use of technology as a tool for innovation and employment creation are fundamental for revitalizing the acumen that Africa would desire to see.
Opportunities for young people in entrepreneurship
The Government of Uganda is striving towards becoming a middle-income country under its Vision 2040. One of the key aspects of achieving this dream is providing much needed skills to the youth, dubbed ‘Skilling Uganda’. This dream is hard to come true if the youth do not have access to capital and fundamental entrepreneurship knowledge and skills to achieve sustainable development. Achieving sustainable development will require significant investment in the attainment of mindset change towards entrepreneurship skills and access to capital. Today, education world over is premised on skills development as a method of learning. The youth, however, require support in accessing capital and starting entrepreneurial ventures.
The Government of Uganda is implementing the Youth Livelihood Scheme (YLS) and supporting access to micro-finance credit facilities. The scheme aims at empowering the youth through access to financial capital and developing entrepreneurship skills. Many youth have enrolled in the scheme although there are still challenges that may hamper the success of the scheme. Among other projects selected and funded include small and medium business enterprises, piggery and poultry projects, vegetable growing and apiculture. The model involves accessing the scheme funds and returning the principal after investment. Policy makers and implementers look at access to financial capital as a pathway to achieving sustainable development. In addition, the government has prioritized the creation of science, technology and innovation (STI) infrastructure in institutions of learning. This programme aims at creating a big number of scientists, engineers and other skilled graduates to fuel industrial development, entrepreneurship and innovation as detailed in the 2009 National STI policy. These strategies, therefore, challenge the youth in higher institutions of learning to harness the available opportunities and strive towards achieving their life goals.
At Kampala International University, we understand the urgency of the matter. The employability of our graduates is very important to us so we have prioritized and designed a number of programs to help prepare our students for a productive job market. From entrepreneurial training, internships and skills enhancement programs, KIU is doing what we can to ensure the best outcomes for our graduates. For example, KIU in collaboration with the Wadhwani Foundation based in California, USA, is due to launch an entrepreneurship training program for university students and the youth at large. The goal is to provide entrepreneurial skills to the youth enrolled on this program to create campus companies by the time of graduation/completion of the program. In this way, graduates of this program will become job creators and not job seekers. Strategies like this one will in turn contribute to economic growth and enhance national competitiveness.
Read More: AllAfrica.com