Week 5 (16th – 23rd September 2017) Unemployment and Underemployment

Prayer Guide 2017

23In all labor there is profit,
But idle chatter leads only to poverty.

Proverbs 14:23

Main Prayer Focus of the Week:

  1. The development of a biblical work ethic in the Body of Christ and the nation
  2. The increase in work opportunities for the youth

 

OVERVIEW OF THE WEEK’S THEME

Youth unemployment is becoming an increasingly troublesome issue in many parts of the world and especially in Africa, which has the fastest growing population in the world. Youth unemployment poses a serious political, economic, and social challenge to any country and its leadership. The youth by definition have been regarded as that segment of the population from 18-35 years who are characteristically active, vibrant, daring and with useful energies.

Global population data indicates that Uganda is not only having one of the fastest growing population rates, but one of the youngest populations in the world. The median age is estimated at about 16 years, and about 80 % of the population is below the age of 35 years. Therefore Uganda, like many other African countries, is faced with the major challenge of how to absorb the large numbers of unemployed graduates in order to reduce unemployment and maximize the benefits that come from having a large work force. The unemployment rate for young people ages 15–24 is 83%.[1] This rate is even higher for those who have formal degrees and live in the urban area.[2] The informal sector accounts for the majority of young workers.[3] 3.2% of youth work for waged employment, 90.9% work for informal employment, and 5.8% of the Ugandan youth are self-employed.[4] The growing number of slum dwellers in African cities is to a large extent a testament of employment that is not gainful.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics indicates that 500,000 young people join our work force every year from universities and other tertiary institutions. It is not unusual to find some graduates still roaming the streets, five years after graduating in search of jobs. A single job advert attracts hundreds and sometimes thousands of applicants.

A high rate of unemployment among the youth is associated with high poverty rates and insecurity. The lack of employment potential makes crime a more attractive option. Lack of employment, an inconsistent policy framework for youth development, and general economic hardship tend to result in the youth becoming agents of social vices, political thuggery, and misadventure. The cycle is making it increasingly difficult for Uganda to break out of poverty. Young women also more often have to stay at home in a maternal role from a very young age, which limits their ability to work.

Governments and policy makers in developing countries are increasingly finding it difficult to successfully handle youth unemployment. Several strategies of youth empowerment have been evolved over time but with little or remarkable results. This high rate of unemployment is resulting from the lack of adequate provision for job creation in the development plans. Another cause is related to an education system that leans towards University education irrespective of course and course contents. As a result, a number of skills acquired from the University are dysfunctional and irrelevant resulting in unemployable graduates who lack marketable skills. This is absurd in a country like Uganda that has many entrepreneurial opportunities. What the youth bring into the economy is largely determined by the education system and the transition from school to work.

Most economists agree that it is the human resources of a nation, not its capital or natural resources that ultimately determine the character and pace of its economic and social development.[5]. In Uganda, the education system is not providing the type of skills and work readiness required by businesses. The market needs skills like literacy, oral communication, information technology, entrepreneurship, analytical, problem-solving and decision making all of which are unfortunately lacking in the products of our education system. It has been said that if a country fails to develop the skill and knowledge of its people and to utilize them effectively in the national economy, it will be unable to develop anything else[6].

 

The Role of Business, Technical and Vocation Education Training (BTVET)

BTVET is concerned with the acquisition of skills and knowledge for employment and sustainable livelihood. Technical education is that aspect of education that leads to the acquisition of skills as well as basic knowledge. Vocational education on the other hand is training for a specific vocation in industry or trade. The mission of technical and vocational education is to promote the production of skilled technical and professional manpower to revitalize and sustain the national economy and reduce unemployment and poverty. Technical and vocational education gives individuals the skills to learn and become productive citizens.

Despite the benefits of BTVET, it is still lowly regarded and many youth shy away from technical and vocational employment preferring degrees. As a result Uganda lacks skilled bricklayers, plumbers, carpenters, painters, lab technicians, electrical technicians, agricultural auxiliary staff etc. The majority of those currently doing these jobs are there by default rather than by choice and are most often not trained to do them. The result is often substandard. It should be noted too that it is this cadre of skilled manpower that form the foundation for industrialization and for an efficient society.

Unfortunately Uganda converted well-established polytechnics like Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo, Busitema College of Agricultural Mechanization, and Arapai Agricultural College into degree-awarding universities[7]. These institutions were producing much-needed technicians but now produce scientists who tend to be under- or un-employed. For Uganda to become a manufacturing nation, a policy emphasis on vocational and polytechnic skills is needed, as was the case with Germany, Singapore and South Korea, which are now global giants in manufacturing.  The experience of these industrial giants is that most of the skills that are needed in industry and manufacturing do not require degree qualifications, rather they come from vocational and polytechnics[8]. In 2014 China, another industrial powerhouse announced that it was turning half of its public universities (six hundred of them) into institutions of applied learning or polytechnics to produce more technically trained graduates[9].

Uganda is poised to reap a demographic dividend over the coming decades as its labour force grows. Whether or not Uganda benefits from this demographic dividend depends on whether the majority of Ugandan youth will be sufficiently educated to man the industrialization and the rest of the labour force. Should the country fail to prepare its youth for this emerging opportunity, there is a very real danger that dark forces and self seeking individuals will take advantage of the masses of unemployed youth to create national instability. The nation is therefore facing both an opportunity and a potential catastrophe.

 

INSTITUTIONS PRAYER FOCUS FOR WEEK FIVE

Pray for these institutions using the prayer guidelines in Chapter One:

  1. Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions
  2. Education Service Commission
  3. Farmers’ Groups
  4. Federation of Uganda Employers
  5. Health Service Commission
  6. Judicial Service Commission
  7. Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development
  8. Ministry of Local Government
  9. Ministry of Public Service
  10. National Organisation of Trade Unions
  11. Non Governmental Organisations
  12. Ministry of Education
  13. Schools and colleges.

 

Pray for the National Education System that there will be:

  • A complete overhaul of Uganda’s education system to one that produces graduates with practical skills. Pray that the new education system that will evolve in the country will provide the labour market with an appropriately educated workforce and that the labor market will indicate the skills and learning needed in the education system.
  • An end to the disconnect between the education system and the labor market.
  • Greater worker training and entrepreneurship coaching
  • An alignment between the education system and the national goals articulated in the national development plan
  • A proliferation of appropriate tertiary education
  • An adjustment in consumption habits and the structure of our economies to produce and consume more homemade manufactures
  • A mindset change with regard to BTVET in the country
  • Increased emphasis on and provision of BTVET in the country

[1] World Bank. 2008. African Development Indicators 2008/2009. Washington, DC: World Bank

[2] The Effects of a Very Young Age Structure in Uganda” (PDF). Population Action International. 2010.

[3] Garcia, Marito. 2008. Directions in Development- Human Development. World Bank

[4] ibid

[5]  (Africa’s Industrialization by David Ssepuuya, p.225)

[6] PWC Africa Oil and Gas Review, June 2013 quoted in Africa’s Industrialization by David Ssepuuya, p.233

[7] (Africa’s Industrialization by David Ssepuuya, p.226)

[8]  (ibid, p.228)

[9] World Univerity News, 12 June 2014 quoted in (Ssepuuya, 2017, p.228)

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