Why youth skills training matters, especially in Uganda

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Why youth skills training matters, especially in Uganda

“I am thinking of becoming a fashion designer. I want to do a tailoring course at some point, because my dream is to become a prominent designer in Uganda and beyond. I have watched some artistic fashion designers and I have fallen in love with such work. I want to be one in future.” 
Shadia, 17, Uganda 

World Youth Skills Day 2022 comes at a troubling time

World Youth Skills Day is on July 15, and at Canadian Feed The Children we continue to celebrate the achievements of the youth who are making better lives for themselves and others. You can read some of their stories here. 

Here’s what the UN has to say about World Youth Skills Day 2022: 

“World Youth Skills Day 2022 takes place amid concerted efforts towards socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that are interconnected with challenges such as climate change, conflict, persisting poverty, rising inequality, rapid technological change, demographic transition and others. 

[…] In this context, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is expected to [help] youth develop the skills they need for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.” (edited for length) 

At CFTC, we believe that changing the future for children means giving them opportunities as they grow. This means we must support them to launch strong futures once they finish school. This year, we’d like to bring attention to a youth employment crisis unfolding in one of the countries we work with: Uganda.  

Quick Facts

  • 75% of population is under the age of 30, and up to 1 million young people enter the labour market every year. 
  • Uganda has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment of the countries in the region at 13%. 
  • Urban based and highly educated youth are more likely to be unable to find work – their unemployment rate is 22%. 
  • Most youth-run businesses are small-scale and informal, with little employment-generating effect and a very high failure rate. 
  • Many barriers to access exist, including lack of access to skills training, among others.  
  • Young women face even more barriers. With few options for economic stability, many female youth are forced into early marriage, face greater chances of abuse, hunger and poverty for themselves and their children. 

What can we do to help? 

Girls at the safe space programming in Uganda

Girls who participated in CFTC-supported safe-space programming in Uganda. This gender-responsive programming helps young women access targeted support.

  • Help them finish school. This is the basis of succeeding in the future for many reasons, beyond earning academic qualifications for university education. Supporting children (especially girls) to finish school means less poverty, less child marriage, fewer dangerous youth migrations and stronger communities. It’s also the basis for success with skills training.

  • Expand access to youth-focused skills training. Youth in Uganda need more and better access to skills training, particularly technical and vocational training in areas like tailoring, barbering, leather working, agribusiness and more. This is crucial, especially since university and college degrees don’t always translate into better jobs. Everyone needs access to training that can help them succeed.

  • Create youth-focused business incubation hubs. Incubation hubs are a proven method of creating job opportunities locally, but youth are typically not targeted by current business incubation hubs. When they do join, services are not tailored to their specific needs. Youth-focused hubs can help youth get additional training in financial management, network with other young entrepreneurs and access markets. They’ll also get access to technology that can enhance their businesses and contribute to policy change by connecting with leaders in government, business and social impact.  
  • Make sure training is gender-responsive. In Uganda, 1 in 5 girls and women age 15-49 have experienced sexual violence. This is a significant barrier to women’s economic participation. That’s why it’s crucial to build gender-responsive training programs. This means training for participants of all genders in preventing gender-based violence, targeted mentoring for female entrepreneurs on succeeding as a woman in businesses, and safe spaces for young women to get support for their specific challenges.  

Jolene holds mushrooms in the school mushroom garden

At 11 years old, Jolene was a mushroom garden helper at her school, learning how to grow mushrooms to support the school feeding program as well as earn income. This type of training serves youth well once they leave school.

How can supporters help?

Donor support for Uganda programs is already helping to provide: 

  • Support for children to finish school. 
  • Mixed-gender youth groups to help all genders learn to end GBV and work towards gender equality. 
  • Skills training beginning in secondary school, particularly in agriculture and agribusiness. 
  • Access to community leadership opportunities like children’s parliaments and youth-led radio shows to give youth a voice in building strong communities.  

Over the past year, Canadian Feed The Children joined with the African Agribusiness Incubation Network to research this issue, and you can learn more by reading the report here. 

Thank you for supporting youth in Uganda and beyond. 

Whether you simply took the time to read this post, have donated to support youth, or are actively supporting youth in your own life, you’re helping create a world where they can thrive now and into the future. We’ll let Shadia, pictured at the top of this post, have the last word: 

“Allow me to thank you for supporting us, educating us, giving us so many other skills like handwork at school, games and sports, music dance and drama kits. You’ve done a lot for us, and we are grateful!”