Youth unemployment is a serious policy crisis in many developing countries. Three quarters of the population in Uganda are youth below the age of 30. A major cause of youth unemployment is believed to be insufficient employable skills (i.e. youth possess skills that are not compatible with available jobs). This problem is further augmented for youth in urban slums and disadvantaged communities. The TEL initiative of COL initiated an advanced ICT Skills training project in partnership with Kampabits, Uganda to train 90 boys and girls in web designing, graphics editing and programming, and connecting the trainees with employers. In addition, the project also focused on sexual health training.
The six-month training resulted in 55 participants getting a job and 19 others starting their own ICT-related enterprise. Banura Sheena is one of the successful learners who landed a job as a programmer in Design Hub Kampala. She says, “I never knew anything about programming languages or what programmers even do… But, today I want to be an awesome programmer to inspire more girls to code and develop apps.” Similarly, Mugeni Prossy, who has a hearing impairment and used to wash dishes in a hotel, has now discovered a passion for software development and graphic design.
An important aspect of the training programme was its focus on creating an inclusive learning environment for nine hearing impaired students by hiring a sign language expert to help these students learn. An evaluation of the project revealed that 60 percent of the learners moved to full-time employment; 96 percent claimed that participating in the Kampabits training experienced an improvement in employability after their participation in the project. A social return on investment analysis indicated that every dollar spent on this project resulted in $3.48 of value.
One of the lessons learned in the project is that making ICT skills training accessible and affordable goes a long way in impacting the lives of those who need it most.
Photo: Banura Sheena