In a significant step towards addressing the issue of youth unemployment in Uganda, 90 refugees hailing from the Rhino camp, Nakivale refugee settlement, and the local host communities have successfully completed a 12-month apprenticeship program. This initiative, supported by the Dutch government, aims to equip the graduates with valuable skills to enhance their employability.
United Nations (UN) resident coordinator in Uganda, Susan Ngongi Namondo, has called upon the Ugandan government to take substantial measures to reduce youth unemployment. She pointed out that a recent labor force survey in Uganda revealed a troubling increase in youth unemployment between 2017 and 2021. Ngongi emphasized the importance of effectively addressing this issue to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ngongi made these remarks during the inaugural graduation ceremony for apprentices in the hotel sector, held in Kampala. The ceremony celebrated the achievements of 90 graduates, who come from diverse backgrounds, including refugees from the Rhino camp, Nakivale refugee settlement, and neighboring host communities. These graduates have successfully obtained certificates in various hotel-related disciplines, such as front office, housekeeping, food and beverages, and food production.
Refugees in Uganda face economic vulnerability, with data from the 2022 UN High Commission for Refugees indicating that 91% of refugees in the country are considered highly economically vulnerable. To address this challenge, Ngongi stressed the significance of investing in skill development, as it equips individuals with the capability to create jobs. She commended the role of skills development in promoting economic stability and self-sufficiency.
Betty Amongi, the Ugandan Minister of Labor, presided over the graduation ceremony at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala. She emphasized the importance of focusing on skills development in the fight against unemployment. The 2021 national labor force survey reported that 9.3% of the working-age population in employment, totaling 970,000 individuals, lacked the necessary skills for their job roles.
Stephen Opio, the Chief Technical Advisor at the International Labor Organization (ILO), stressed the global significance of apprenticeship skills development. He highlighted a recommendation endorsed by member states emphasizing the importance of apprenticeships on the global stage.
Suzan Muhwezi, the leader of the Uganda Hotel Owners Association, provided an overview of the pilot project. She noted that 100 refugees were initially recruited for the program, with 95 successfully completing both off-the-job and on-the-job training. Regrettably, four participants did not appear for the final assessment, and one tragically passed away during the course of the program. This underscores the challenges faced by individuals seeking to enhance their skills and employability.