Maria Kiwanuka blames youth unemployment on lack of career guidance

Former Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka has attributed the high rate of youth unemployment to the deteriorating provision of career guidance in schools.

Kiwanuka, a Presidential Advisor on Finance, was speaking at the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

Kiwanuka, while speaking about the challenge of unemployment and poverty among the youth, cited a need to resuscitate career guidance in schools saying that not many schools still have a career guidance office.

The meeting held every four years is convened by the Commonwealth secretariat under the theme “Resourcing and Financing Youth Development: Empowering the Young People.”

It brings together youth ministers, youth leaders, youth workers and youth sector stakeholders from all the 52 Commonwealth countries. It is envisaged that the meeting will come up with resolutions to help re-focus policy and programing for youth in the countries.

Uganda is a youthful country with 76% of the country’s population aged between 15- 35 years.

Youth unemployment is one of the biggest problems government is grappling with. The Uganda Bureau of Statistics puts the percentage of unemployed youth among the total unemployed persons in the country at 64%.

Kiwanuka says the youth ought to look at job creation and entrepreneurship not as a low class occupation but one that pays the rent and puts food on the table.

The former finance minister noted that the youth are recognised as a force for development.

Kiwanuka also mentioned a need to make sure that Uganda’s school curriculum not only includes but honours the economic land scape through apprenticeships, business vocational training, logical thinking, innovation and problem solving.

She argued that instead of studying Russian history or conflict resolution, students should be life skills by the end of Senior Four, so that if their education stops at this level they can go to work as a carpenter, plumber, an electrician or a nurse maid.

She added that currently young people are guided to be saloon operators, getting into betting, driving boda-bodas and many other ventures she described as dangerous for the young generation.

Kiwanuka also noted that the youth are part of the world’s greater workforce and that youth development can only be optimised by integrating it into the national economic growth level and later formulate it into the global growth level.

Kiwanuka’s statements were complemented by the outgoing Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Dan Kidega, who also noted that career guidance is acutely lacking in particularly private schools and some of the government schools.

He urged government to pay specific attention to guiding young people.