First call for concept notes

Closed – Uganda

We launched our first call for concepts that offer solutions to the youth employment challenge in Uganda.

Uganda’s job creation challenge is in many ways typical of the Sub-Saharan African region. It has one of the youngest populations in the world and its working-age population is projected to double by 2040. With a total population of around 45 million, half of which are 15 years or younger, it is estimated that over a million young people are entering the job market each year. There are clearly not enough decent jobs to go around, which has already led to high unemployment and, in particular, underemployment of young people. Thus, rapid action is necessary to stimulate economic growth and tackle the skills mismatch in the labour market, so that young people are not left out.

We conducted a Uganda scoping study, to refine and contextualise the broader youth employment challenge in the country. Through our research, we have been able to home in on some of the most pressing issues preventing youth from accessing decent work in Uganda. Although the country is facing some crucial systemic barriers that limit economic growth, our study allowed us to identify some medium to short term opportunities that we believe have significant potential to create jobs for youth, especially for young women.

Proposal Guidelines

Therefore, alongside a commitment to the Challenge Fund’s general guiding principles, proposals must specifically include one or more of the following areas:

High potential sectors

Improve the functioning of the markets in high-potential sector value chains, with a direct pathway to sustainable job creation. High potential sectors in Uganda include agri-processing, light manufacturing, ICT, tourism and other services. We are open to other sectors with a clear justification of their impact and scale potential.

Working with private firms in high potential sectors

Improve the functioning of the markets and upgrading of firms in high-potential sector value chains, with a direct pathway to improved productivity and sustainable job creation. High potential sectors in Uganda include agri-processing, light manufacturing, ICT and tourism. In order to be able to address the malfunctioning of markets and stagnation of growth, our focus will be on private sector actors, whose solutions will have greater impact and scale at the wider market level.

Career paths of young women

Supporting equal career progression for women. Promoting women in leadership positions, for example through accelerated up-skilling and professional development, in combination with role model-driven cultural change

BTVET with active private sector involvement

Current enrolment of youth in BTVET is too low in Uganda. Upgrading the sector can improve opportunities of decent employment for youth. This requires both improvement of quality and demand responsiveness of the education and awareness, as well as accessibility and signposting of youth towards BTVET. But in order to ensure clear pathways to employment are created (rather than ‘skilling for skilling’s sake’), the private sector should be actively involved in BTVET provision. This might be through collaborations that provide concrete on the job training (e.g., apprenticeships) and job placements (eg., through public-private co-operation).

Market- and demand-driven employability skills

Employers report that in addition to technical skills, soft skills of youth are equally underdeveloped. Solutions are needed to incorporate improvement of soft skills in education, career guidance and continuous learning on the job, to ensure these are aligned with market demand. Soft skills are also highly relevant considering ‘the future of work’ and the growing gig economy.

Geographical diversity and regional relevance

Most instruments to improve matching of youth with jobs are in the Kampala metropolitan area. Opportunities exist in improving support to self-employment and job placement support in up-country areas, either urban or rural. There are also opportunities for the private sector to take an active role in driving and strengthening regional market development, especially for certain sectors such as dairy, transport, tourism.