Amaani Rwenzori ! – Skills for our Region
Uganda has a young population with half of it being younger than 16 years and another third being between 16 and 30. If harnessed, this demographic dividend bares high potential for national economic grows and social development, but also represents risks like the high numbers of school drop outs, youth unemployment, early pregnancies and challenging social situations. Equipping this young generation with the skills to harness their talents, they are given the opportunity to achieve a regular income and to support their own families.
Vocational training is a resource to empower the youth with market relevant skills to attain productive employment, while contributing to Uganda’s society. The Ugandan Ministry for Education and Sports initiated the “Skilling Uganda” program formally known as Business, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) strategic plan. This initiative aims to set equitable access to skills training to raise the economic relevance of BTVET.
The vulnerable youth in Uganda’s urban and rural areas require accessible education and training. But skills development alone is not enough! Integrating individual guidance and post-training support into the training packages is essential for a long-term sustainable impact.
The on-the-job non-formal training program of Amaani Rwenzori ! was designed in close cooperation with local stakeholders and reacts flexible to labour market’s requirements. The youth development center was founded in 2016 within the “SkillUp!” initiative of the German NGO – Welthungerhilfe and in cooperation with Youth Encouragement Services Uganda (YES), a recognized local NGO with over 20 years of experience in school sponsorship and managing a backpacker’s hostel. For 6 months the young women and men attend a work-based practical skills training in selected local workshops. Hands-on technical training creates realistic insights into the market’s demands and challenges. Parallel, weekly Life Skills and Entrepreneurship training supports the apprenticeship and promotes life-long learning, as the trainees are equipped with the capability to identify and work for their goals. Mentors and individual counselors guide the trainees in their development. The assessment by the Ugandan Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) validates the skills attained and awards the graduates with the government certificate Worker’s PAS (Worker’s Practically Acquired Skills).
Forming Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) groups, active participation in the alumni network and the opportunity to qualify for individual Start-Up support by Amaani Rwenzori ensure long-term impact on the youth!
Judith made the choice to train in pottery, the only trade within which Amaani Rwenzori! still requires a Worker’s PAS. She loves her work and the training helped her to overcome her earlier doubts. Now, she is a graduate and is an employed potter. As a young peer, Judith shares her experiences and encourages other trainees and young women in the region.
Keeping in mind the upcoming generation of under 16-year-old in Uganda willing to have access to the labour market of the future, skills development is a fundamental initiative to overcome unemployment among the youth. Amaani Rwenzori! is an outstanding example of a comprehensive youth training scheme contributing to Uganda’s development.