The largest percentage of young people in Uganda & Africa at large are educated but lack employable skills. Majority are well versed with theoretical education but have little or no exposure to practical skill sets. Millions of youths enter the workforce each year but more than 85 per cent of this number is not employable due to deficient skill sets. This imbalance is due to lack of technical and soft skills.
It’s evident that we (parents, leaders, investors) need to make drastic amends; we need to celebrate skills and accept their need and importance with an open mind. For example, there is a huge shortage of competent, certified sales Associates, Computer Operators, Beauticians, Mobile Repair Engineers, Helper-Plumbers, Helper-Electricians, welders etc. Yet the scant regard we have for vocational training and skills development has led to decades of neglect of these crafts.
After we acknowledge the need, we then need to support the technology growth with investment in skills and knowledge to prepare for the future. Revamping the education system can help bridge the talent gap, especially at the advanced high school level that forms the first steps into the professional world. Schools need to collaborate with industries to develop curriculum that integrates skilling.
What would also help, would be providing training in not just technical skills but also soft skills or communication skills, preparing them to transform into capable workers. Most of the institutions do not prepare the candidates for the new working world, making them struggle while facing the competencies of the professional world. There is an urgent need to make the graduates job ready with basic skills of inter-personal communication, team work and basic computer knowledge.
“Job security” is quickly shifting from being ‘qualification-based’ to ’skill-based’ so integrating skills with regular main stream education at schools, will greatly transform the employment landscape at the most fundamental level in Africa.