Youth Employability through Skills Enterprise Development (YES)
Uganda currently has one of the youngest populations in the world with more than 78% of its 35 million people below the age of 30, of those 11% are unemployed and 26% are largely underemployed. Youth unemployment has been attributed to the narrow size of
Uganda currently has one of the youngest populations in the world with more than 78% of its 35 million people below the age of 30, of those 11% are unemployed and 26% are largely underemployed. Youth unemployment has been attributed to the narrow size of the formal employment sector and the limited engagement of youth in the agricultural sector that employs more than 85% of the rural population.
This EU funded project provides coaching, training and mentorship to youth, most of whom are either unemployed or uneducated. By working with Business, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) institutions, the project helps rural youth in the West Nile region to develop their vocational and technical skills and provides them with the opportunity to escape from low-skilled and low-paid work. This has been aligned with the Ministry of Education and Sports' policy, seeking to develop and improve practical training programmes and train instructors from BTVET institutions to be more labour market responsive.
Training institutions continue to produce graduates whose skills do not match what the market needs. SNV and its partners, AFARD and CEGED, are working to bridge the gap between institutional and community-based formal and informal skills training by engaging BTVETs, public and private actors. The goal is to improve service delivery and enable a more focused and coordinated approach toward relevant skills training.
The YES project has the following objectives:
Provision of transferable, technical and vocational, agribusiness, business and life skills development and training to participating young people;
Enterprise development and linking youth to relevant market opportunities through apprenticeships (match-making) and internships, provision of on-going coaching and mentoring including financial and market linkages;
Provision of start-up support (start-up kits, small grants, financial service linkages, youth business competitions) including business coaching and savings promotion.
Two manuals – 'Entrepreneurship and life skills' and 'Farming as a business and good agronomic practices' – have been developed, based on the capacity gaps identified at the BTVET institutions. A total of 28 BTVET instructors and eight staff were trained using the entrepreneurship manual. The training covered basic concepts of enterprenuership, how to generate business ideas, developing a business plan, marketing, costing and pricing, record keeping, saving and life skills development. At the end of the training all participants developed a work plan for rolling out the programme in their respective institutions. The BTVETs have also integrated entrepreneurship training into their school curriculum which is based primarily on the YES entrepreneurship and the life skills manual. A total of 700 youth benefited from the trainings in 2015.
One of the challenges that was evident at the beginning of the project was the negative attitude most youth had towards agriculture. Many had tried and failed to yield much in agriculture due to the erratic and unreliable weather patterns. Furthermore, they had no peers that had succeeded in agriculture to mentor them. The young model farmer (YMF) approach was thus an excellent opportunity for youth to learn from their peers in the agri-business sector. SNV and its partners trained 33 YMFs as principal trainers to support the rural youth engaged in agriculture. Training covered land preparation, nursery bed preparation, planting, integrated pest and disease management and record keeping. The YMFs were each assigned 29 youth to coach and mentor while they continued to receive support from project officers. The young farmers selected different enterprises ranging from tomatoes, onions, Irish potatoes, cabbage and beans. By the end of the first year (2015), 1,000 youth farmers had taken up farming as a business and adopted good agronomic practices due to the peer-to-peer learning and support from their YMFs.