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UN agencies launch initiative to tackle Uganda’s unemployment

A pilot computerized tool that aims to contribute to a reduction in unemployment in Uganda has been launched in Uganda, thanks to a collaboration involving the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The initiative launched at the Kampala Capital City Authority’s (KCCA) Employment Services Bureau and Labour Office on Feb.24 involves setting up job matching databases in five pilot districts of Kampala, Gulu, Hoima, Mbarara, and Mukono.

While opening the four-day training course for district labour officers, Harriet Mudondo, the Director of Gender Community Services and Production at KCCA said the initiative could not have come at a better time considering that the city authority is still grappling with the unemployment challenge, especially among the youth.

“As government, we have the mandate [to provide employment opportunities] but we have limited resources so we value relationships very much,” Mudondo said, adding that, “IOM’s interface with labour officers is good.”

Mariela Guajardo, the programme coordinator at IOM said the job matching database will feed into the labour market and information system which is being supported by both IOM and ILO to match job seekers with potential employers.

The training will help labour officers learn how to collect data on jobs and jobseekers, analyse it and have it ready for people who need to access the information.

Guajardo said although the Uganda Bureau of Statistics has in the past managed to get information on the number of unemployed Ugandans, there has been a missing link on the jobs available.

This challenge, the UN agencies hope, will be solved by job matching databases which seek to help employers and jobseekers’ requirements get analyzed at a one stop centre.

“We are not just talking about engineers or doctors but also casual labourers. Hoima District, for instance, is going to need many casual labourers in the near future because of oil,” Guajardo told The Independent.

How database will work

The jobseeker will have to visit a registration point such as KCCA’s Employment Service Bureau. A job counsellor will then register the applicant in the database; his or her documents will be checked followed by an interview about the applicant’s employment interests.

This information will then be uploaded in real time on the database and made available for recruitment managers. All jobseekers meeting the minimum criteria of a job offer previously recorded by recruitment managers will appear automatically.

The recruitment manager will edit the list of pre-selected jobseekers, according to the number and criteria required by the employer and if requested by the employer, the job counsellor will inform the applicant of the pre-selection and of the employer’s selection process [interview, test]. After selection, the employer informs the recruitment manager of his or her choice of applicants.

Then, the job counsellor will update the records of pre-selected and selected applicants. The database will collect statistics throughout the process. The job counsellor can continue to provide support throughout the jobseeker’s career.

While opening the four day training for labour officers from the four districts, Milton Turyasiima, an acting commissioner from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development noted that the labour market has two sides; the demand and supply side.

“If those two are not talking to each other, you will find problems like we currently have,” he said.

Turyasiima said the database will therefore help in providing good information by matching the employment opportunities with available labour.

“After the training, the labour officers should be able to register job seekers, liaise with employers to canvass for jobs, and match the jobs with available skills in the database.”

Turyasiima said the training would provide the labour officers with a good insight into how best to match available jobs with available skills on the market.

He noted that most of the unemployment problems in Uganda are as a result of a mismatch between the education skills and jobs.

In 2013, a project done by the IOM in the food processing and hotel sector in Uganda noted that the sector still struggles to even find first level employees such as cleaners and waiters.

The job matching database is part of the project entitled, “Contributing to Improved Labour Market Information through the UN Joint Programme on Population, Phase II” which aims at developing certain key building blocks of a labour market information system (LMIS) that can contribute to sound and evidence-based policies on employment, particularly of young Ugandans.

Turyasiima said the institutions will be able to find out which are the most required skills for the market and using the information, they will be able to refocus their training programmes.

He said the reason the five districts had been chosen is the relatively higher unemployment levels but also the number of enterprises that are also quite high.

According to Turyasiima, an unemployed person is one who has not worked in the last seven days before the survey and going by that definition, Uganda’s official unemployment stands at 2.1%, while underemployment [where one is working but not for at least 40 hours per week] stands at 8%.

Abel Asiimwe, KCCA’s Supervisor at the Employment Services Bureau noted that Kampala City’s bureau will benefit from the collaboration by incorporating the digital platforms into their daily work.

Asiimwe sees another opportunity in cutting back on the number of cases where Ugandans have been lured into non-existent job opportunities abroad since there are plans to link Uganda’s system to other international systems to verify the available jobs there.

“The database is a very welcome intervention which will help KCCA to ease the unemployment problem in Kampala which at over 10% is way above the national average,” Asiimwe said.

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