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Bridging the gap between skills and employment

Today, as we mark World Youth Skills Day, the fact that there is a mismatch between skills available and employment opportunities cannot be ignored. In fact it is increasingly becoming bare for all to see.

Today, as we mark World Youth Skills Day, the fact that there is a mismatch between skills available and employment opportunities cannot be ignored. In fact it is increasingly becoming bare for all to see.
A youth-led research shows that young Africans face a number of challenges when entering the labour market with lack of skills being one of them.

Wide gap between skills and employment
According to the 2015/16 Youth Think Tank report by the MasterCard Foundation, there is a skills and employment mismatch.

The findings, according to the report, are no different from the known facts, revealing a difficult journey of youth employment and entrepreneurship.

The report, according to Richard Wanzala, the programme manager of Restless Development, established that formal education has not produced hands-on and skilled young people to confront the challenges of securing sustainable employment or growing a profitable business.

Data, which was collected from more than 400 interviewees, found that whereas youth across East Africa are pursuing self-employment, they are eager to participate in the policy decisions that impact their lives.
“I hope to be part of the solution by gaining an in-depth understanding and being a voice for youth,” Hilda Namakula, a member of the Youth Think Tank, believes.

Bridging the gap
Whereas there have been a number of intervention, the report found, there is need for being more proactive, especially in regard to volunteer work and using information and communication technology as a driver of acquiring skills.

“Skills are important to be employable, whether by self or any company. Therefore, through volunteering, people should be able to acquire skills to create or get better jobs,” Kasifa Kisa, a youth mentor at Brac, says.
But beyond the volunteer works, there is need to consolidate opportunities in agriculture because many youth are considering the sector as an employment priority.

“Youth in rural areas are cautiously considering employment opportunities in agriculture, rather than migrating to urban centres. However, they face many challenges to achieve their objectives as entrepreneurs, including limited access to financial services and business management skills,” explains Greg Lavender, the Restless Development country director.

Way forward
The reality of the matter is governments need to priotise market-driven vocational and entrepreneurial skills for young people. This should be pursued in both school and non-school environments so that the non-schooled are not left out.

Youth, according to findings, also think that they should be let to do jobs that are specific to their training with the private sector considering some investment in youth to get on- job training and ongoing mentorship.
Also, there is need for more and better information sharing on youth initiatives, especially those from government.

Information channels need to be improved so that youth have access to relevant employment opportunities and are empowered to participate in policy and programme development initiatives.

Youth also need to understand how pervasive technology has become as well as knowing that interaction with technology should start early enough to build confidence ICT abilities.

Expert view

Dependable: According to Robert Mwesige, a human resource adviser for Federation of Uganda Employers, before job hunting, ensure that you have basic employable skills such as being dependable, team spirit and problem-solving skills.

Youth need hands-on skills such as knitting that will make them job creators.

Youth need hands-on skills such as knitting that will make them job creators.

Kasozi Nasser. kasozinaser@gmail.com

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