By Violet N Kawuma

In the bid to fulfill its pledge of taking the country to modernity through job creation and inclusive development made in the 2016 manifesto, the NRM government introduced the Green Jobs Programme aimed at tackling the problem of unemployment and low labour productivity among the youth. The Programme was approved by Cabinet chaired by H.E The President on 7th December 2016 and further directed the Pilot of Songhai Model at Kampiringisa.

The Programme targets both educated and uneducated working age population particularly women and youth. The components of the Programme are; (i) Informal sector (Jua-kalis) support (ii) Revitalization of quality apprenticeship and volunteerism in Uganda (iii) Establishment of Industrial Business Shelters with Common-user Facilities (iv) Support the adoption of Songhai model- Green Incubation Centres (v) Strengthening Social Safeguards (vi) Promotion of Decent/Green Jobs Abroad and (vii) strengthening Local Governments and KCCA in Green Jobs Creation and Labour Productivity Enhancement.

Green Jobs are Decent Jobs.  Jobs are decent when they help reduce negative environmental impact and promote safety and health at work ultimately leading to environmentally, economically and socially sustainable enterprises and economies. More precisely green jobs are decent when, among others, they: promote safety and health at work (good working conditions); improve energy and raw materials efficiency; minimization of waste and industrial pollution and protect and restore ecosystems.

Economic liberation being the focus for the government, they have channeled their efforts on fighting poverty and unemployment that poses a great challenge to the country especially among the youth.

Aligned to NRM Manifesto 2016-21, National Development Plan II and 23 Government Directives, the programme aims to achieve the following;

Pillar One: Support Informal Sector (Jua-kalis) Businesses

The programme is supporting Jua-kalis through provision of green technologies, business start-ups tool kits, training, certification and accreditation as well as exposure tours within the country and abroad.   Furthermore, the programme provides training and other related health, safety, environment and quality management services to Jua-kalis. This components targets 1,000,000 Jua-kalis businesses that include youth, women and PWDs.

Achievements So far: Among  the beneficiaries of this programme are a total of 100 youth groups in the informal sector (Jua-Kali) Businesses in Mechanical, Metal Fabrication and Welding; Electrical; Woodwork and Carpentry; Art, Design, Leatherworks, Textile & Tailoring; Plumbing & Construction; Agro processing; Information, Communication and Technology; Automobile Assembling, maintenance and repairs; Cosmetology; and Creative Arts  in the greater Kampala and Wakiso who were supported with start-up tool kits and equipment. H.E the President presided over the launch of the Green Jobs Programme and handed over the equipment to the Jua-Kalis at Uganda Museum on 17th October 2017.

A group of youth in Bugolobi, Nakawa Division are benefiting from this project. They run a metal fabrication and welders company registered under the name Blue Ocean Engineering Limited. They make a number of products including trolleys, kitchen sinks, distillers and tanks among their key products. They have managed to work with a number of big companies like Movit (U) ltd, Kenrom Investments and other beverage and food processing companies to process pipelines and have been taken on for maintenance purposes in the industries.

A proud Sempa Siraj, the Chairperson noted that they not only received a generator from the government, which is rescuing them during the times of load shedding but the programme has encouraged them to train their fellow youth free of charge to spread the message of hard work and self employment through skills development in the community. For the past 3 years they have so far trained 13 youth and currently have 8 on the programme. They believe their trained colleagues can go on and independently start their own workshops. The group expects more machinery from the government as promised to expand their work shop and increase the number of permanent employees from the current 7 and train more youth.

Pillar Two: Revitalization of Quality Apprenticeship and Volunteerism in Uganda

The Ministry is implementing apprenticeship (workplace based training) and volunteerism at workplace as an important step towards job creation and entrepreneurship empowerment. This serves as a bridge between a person’s educational background and the tasks they perform in the workplace. The component focuses on the important sectors/industries of the economy like hotels and hospitality, manufacturing, agriculture, renewable energy, construction, oil and gas among others.

The training provided to employees at their place of work is to enable them familiarize with enterprise policies, work culture, and to provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their job. The component is focusing on the following;

i. Development and Operationalization of the National Work-Based Learning and Volunteerism policies and Laws

ii. Supporting the enrolment of both informal and formal apprenticeships in Major Key sectors of the economy, Agriculture, Hospitality and Tourism, Construction and Manufacturing

iii. Supporting the enrolment of Volunteers in Both Public and Private sector

iiii. Build Labour Management Information systems (LIMS) to guide on Skills requirements

v. Establishment of Four Regional Apprenticeship and WBL Centre’s

The Ministry with support of UNDP has started a structured volunteerism scheme for graduates between 18 to 35 years. The unemployed graduates who will be placed in UN agencies, Government MDAs, and Private Sector to work for about 16 to 24 months as volunteers. Currently recruitment for the Secretariat is being undertaken and development of the Manuals and Guidelines for facilitate the process are in place.

Ssimilarly, the Ministry has developed Uganda National Apprenticeship Framework, 2017 that will enable Government rolls out the Scheme to Oil and Gas; Construction; Agriculture; Tourism and Hospitality as well as Manufacturing industries. This Uganda National Apprenticeship Framework (UNAF) is therefore an attempt by Government to address the challenges of unskilled labour, skills mismatch of graduates, low labour productivity and high unemployment in Uganda. Uganda National Apprenticeship Framework (UNAF) for Apprenticeships is critical for the design and implementation of industry specific apprenticeship projects and programmes.

Pillar Three: Establishment of Industrial Business Shelters with common user facilities in KCCA and other Urban Areas in Uganda

The Ministry is committed to creating more job opportunities through improving competitiveness and production in the following trades: Mechanical, Metal Fabrication and Welding; Electrical; Woodwork and Carpentry; Art, Design, Leatherworks, Textile & Tailoring; Plumbing & Construction; Agro processing; Information, Communication and Technology; Automobile Assembling, maintenance and repairs; Cosmetology; and Creative Arts.  These shelters have workplace skilling facilities which ultimately act as Centres of Excellence for Decent Work.

Accordingly, Government intends to construct Business Shelters in urban areas across the country that will provide workplace shelters to those unemployed persons who lack places of work but also access modern equipment and plant with international trainers in one common facility.

Each Shelter will house a workplace skilling facility and Master Craftsmen or Experienced Trainers in different trades. Government will also procure and install modern common usable equipment and plant to manufacture, assemble, repair and maintain products that are hitherto imported. The shelters will also be equipped with utilities like water, ICT, power, stores, sanitary conveniences, restaurants, workplace health promotion areas among others. The component is focusing on the following the interventions;

i. Construction of Industrial business shelters of various trade types(Mechanical, Metal, Fabrication and Welding; Electrical; Woodwork & Carpentry; Art, Design, Leatherworks, Textile & Tailoring; Plumbing & Construction; Agro processing; Information, communication & Technology; Automobile Assembling, Maintenance and Repairs, Cosmetology; Creative Arts established and functional

ii. Establishment of workplace skilling facilities with the shelters

iii. Development of Uganda National Local content Policy

iiii. Purchase and installation of common-user equipment and plants in the shelters

v. Undertaking training, accreditation and certification

Pillar Four: Support the adoption of Songhai Model- Green Incubation Centres in Uganda

The Songhai Model is an integrated system of development that seeks to reduce poverty, youth unemployment and food insecurity by strengthening the technical and organizational capacities of communities to produce efficiently and sustainably. The model deploys authentic technology to harness environmental capital to produce more and better quality food for a growing population.

The Model is a part of the search to develop and deploy a new paradigm that harnesses the environmental capital of our planet to produce more and better quality food for a growing population, while protecting and enhancing it. The Songhai regenerative agriculture promotes a real “greening” of Agriculture, through an ecosystem approach that draws nature’s contributions to crop and animal growth, such as soil organic matter and soil micro-organisms, rainfall, pollination and bio-control and integrated pest management, Eco services (water shades and landscapes). The component is focusing on the following the interventions;

i. Setting up integrated production systems at Songhai Sites

ii. Green agro-processing facilities

iii. Training uneducated and educated women and youth in the model

Pillar Five: Promotion of Green and / or Decent Employment Abroad

Government intends to establish a revolving credit fund with a commercial bank that will lend money at low interest rate to the potential workforce who have got green and / or decent jobs abroad and pay after starting work abroad. The fund will also support monitoring and rescue activities for migrant workers abroad. This Pillar will also support the establishment of the Transit Centres for Migrant Workers abroad including undertaking bilateral talks with receiving countries on decent or green jobs.

Pillar Six: Strengthening Social Safeguards

This component focuses on strengthening community engagement and participation, child protection measures, gender equality, labour influx management, occupational safety and health in infrastructure development projects. The component focuses on the following;

i. Conducting Labour and occupational safety monitoring and inspections in infrastructural development projects

ii. Procurement of ICT, Inspection, Transport and Laboratory equipment and tools

iii. Conducting and disseminating applied research

iiii. Development and operationalisation National Social Assessment Framework

v. Support youth and women green employment intensive works

Pillar Seven: Strengthen Local Governments and KCCA in Green Jobs Creation and Productivity Enhancement

Government will provide transfers to local governments to facilitate green employment as well as labour market planning and management.  Efforts will be made to train, tool and retool the staff at the local governments and establish functional Regional and District Job Centres. This will enable districts plan and execute green employment projects for their people. All categories of working age population will benefit from the project.

Criteria for Selection of Beneficiaries

i. Fresh graduates from different tertiary and university institutions will be given first priority under the Pillars I, II, III, V and VI. This is intended to reduce pressure in the labour market.

ii. Non-educated and school drop-out will also be targeted to benefit from Pillar I, II and III.

iii. The unemployed persons in the labour market will be given an opportunity to benefit from the pillar interventions basing on the relevant areas of interest.

iiii. The selection will take into account the gender and special interest groups and regional balance.

v. All District LC V Chairpersons will be required to submit Bi-Annual District Employment Profiles to the Minister responsible for Labour and Employment who will thereafter update Cabinet. The Ministry will develop guidelines for this purpose.

Like most government initiatives the programme is facing a number of challenges like inadequate funding. The programme budget for the FY 2018/2019 is Shs 0.3Bn, which leaves a gap of 99.7Bn. The other challenge is inadequate mobilization and sensitization about the opportunity among the youth leaving many out. Other challenges are the poor attitude of the youth and poor coordination at district level.

With such challenges out of the way the Green Job Programme is heading in the right direction to empower the youth and women out of unemployment with its main goal of poverty eradication in the country at large. My appeal to Ugandans is to support these youth by buying their products to further their businesses. When we buy products produced locally we are building Uganda.