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“On-job training helps grad employment”
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“On-job training helps grad employment”

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Badru WalusansaUnemployment for graduates is a chronic problem, but Badru Walusansa, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Kampala in Uganda, writes the solution may be in on-job training that builds careers and society.

Graduate unemployment in Uganda is stale news, with soaring figures of unemployment. Every year, both public and private universities release more than 400,000 graduates into a job market that only has 90,000 jobs, according to figures from the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

It’s every graduate’s dream to find work that is relevant to their field of study or profession. However, this seems far from the reality, given the limited job opportunities and complex job requirements that do not match the competence of many fresh graduates.

Several graduates have trekked the streets for years looking for jobs and failed on grounds of not having the required work experience.

I remember buying newspapers on a daily basis to peruse job advertisements. Unfortunately, at every job I applied for I was beaten for lack of required skills and work experience. I soon realised that many others like me were facing the same challenge.

Many employers in the public sector insist on employing skilled human resources, but are not willing to hone the skills of fresh graduates. I am also cognizant of the fact that government is expediting multi-pronged strategies to create jobs to reduce the graduate unemployment gap, but I find this flimsy because the majority of the targeted human resources lacks the requisite skills for such jobs.

It’s however not too late to explore options on how to skill graduates. On-job training could be the missing link in reducing graduate unemployment. Both the public and private sector should start appreciating on-job training as a way of identifying potential employees. Such on-job training could also be beneficial to graduates who can still find jobs elsewhere without being trapped for lack of experience.

Several corporate companies such as MTN, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, and TOTAL, among others, have developed comprehensive graduate-training-programmes which have helped build the capacity of fresh graduates. The beneficiaries of such programmes have successfully ended up getting jobs in the same companies, hence reducing graduate unemployment.

Uganda Revenue Authority also has a graduate training programme that enrolls more than 100 graduates each year and trains them in a wide range of work done by the government tax collector.

Other government agencies should also adopt such best practices, and in case limited by resources, the government should deliberately appropriate resources for such programmes and have a policy in place that supports the same.

Higher institutions of learning should also get interested in starting collaboration with the public and private sectors to strengthen graduate training. While such collaboration may exist already, it needs to be publicised and broadened.

According to the Skilled Workforce for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth; A G20 Training Strategy by International Labour Organisation, 2011, on-job training provides the core work skills, general knowledge, industry-based and professional competencies that facilitate the transition from education into the world of work.

ILO’s strategy needs to be relied upon by employers that might wish to employ fresh graduates.

The Uganda Vision 2040 – the country’s long-term development plan – envisages a strong labour force that can act as an enabling factor to help the country leapfrog from a lower-income to a middle-income status. It further identifies skills or training as a means of equipping the labour force with appropriate skills required for sustainable production. I hope such initiatives (if they are there) can be tapped into by our graduates.

Apart from reducing the rate of unemployment burden, on job training could also help both private and public enterprises save costs spent on imported human labour that does work equivalent to what can be done by local trained personnel.

Countries such as South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and China are successful in terms of human capital development because they undertook robust efforts in training their labour force. This has strategically enabled their graduates to find jobs. If such countries took that step and succeeded, Uganda too can!

Photo credit: carianoff Hlpwntd via photopin (license)
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About me: I am a coordinator for Hands Against Poverty-Uganda, an initiative I support as I aspire to influence more youths in Uganda to directly engage in poverty reduction programmes. I am active in human rights advocacy and elections management, after having been a voter educator at the Citizens Election Observers Network-Uganda.

I have a passion for writing and have authored several articles on different topics in the Weekly Observer newspaper, and contribute articles for the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative’s website.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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