Youth in Uganda form the highest population in the country presently sitting with 78% of the population under 30 years [Uganda Demographic Survey, 2016]. This places a huge burden on the country to put in place policies and regulations to assist the youth to either find employment or start their own businesses. Although, the government has put in place these policies and regulations there is still youth who cannot find employment in their chosen professional direction.
Masters and degree graduates still struggle to find jobs appropriate to the courses they studied. Many courses are so theoretical that employers are reluctant to employ new graduates as they have no practical skills to go with their degree. Many prefer taking on diploma and certificate graduates, who they believe have better skills plus, knowledge that the degree graduates lack. This however, puts a greater pressure on these young people, both degree and diploma graduates. It also leaves graduates with no opportunity to gain the necessary experience they so desperately need.
Youth unemployment rate differs much depending on the source. However, over the last ten years youth unemployment has risen to 13.3% [World Bank 2019]. As the number of dependents increases, pressure on parents and relatives also increases to keep the youth from going astray. Research has shown that unemployed youth with or without education can become involved in crime, substance abuse and sex for money [SNV, 2018].
As a nation Uganda does not have a publically funded welfare system, thus, youth cannot afford to be unemployed. This necessitates them to join the informal sector hustling for business in the cities busy streets and markets. Walking round communities selling goods and often seeing the lifestyle they wanted. Thus, temptation to start on the slippery slope of bad behaviours such as crime with eventually the possibility of violence can be a hard master to control. Seeing all your hard work obtaining academic qualifications as a waste of time can test these young people and many unfortunately make the wrong decision. Many become involved in politics, which can lead to dissidence and violence due to the frustrations of having nothing to do all day. They see classmates, who have been lucky to find employment buying cars and partying, while they become despondent and disappointed with nothing in their pocket. Taking on the government has been the only way that they see to have the lifestyle they want. Riots from youth over the years have led to Police being injured or even killed in the line of duty. The devastation to property and insurance claims following these riots is expensive and innocent people have to bare this expense. This also, puts a great deal of pressure on government to finance the control of these types of disturbances thus, removing monies from other sectors.
Others often return to their villages and help family by doing subsistence farming. The difficulty here is that the majority of youth do not want to be involved in agriculture viewing it as old fashioned and hard work. What happens is that they become part of the “underemployed”. Doing jobs below what they feel is what they trained for.
Graduates at certificate, diploma or degree level nowadays need to add value to their CV’s either through undertaking additional training or internships.