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SKY helps young people in Uganda find jobs

Youth Employment

Uganda launched the Skilling Youth for Employment in Agribusiness (SKY) project with a view to combating youth unemployment. Businesses and the education sector there are cooperating to give young farmers practical training. PUM is supporting the project by organising missions designed to the raise the knowledge levels of the training programmes.

SKY is a four-year project launched to sustainably address youth unemployment in Uganda. It aims to train 6,000 young people in the agribusiness, while also creating 4,000 jobs in the areas of Lake Kyoga, Elgon, Lake Victoria Crescent and southwestern Uganda. The young people in question are to be taught to manage a particular aspect of agribusiness, as well as generating their own income. SKY was devised by the Netherlands Embassy in Uganda, and is being implemented by the AVSI Foundation. Founded in Italy in 1972, this NGO carries out cooperation projects worldwide, with a particular focus on education.

Training curriculum

There is considerable demand for SKY among Uganda’s rapidly expanding population, according to country coordinator Jos Welzen: ‘If you have absolutely nothing, and you receive the offer of a three-month training course, including free bed and board… well, it is naturally a huge incentive.’ The SKY project has already concluded agreements with over thirty businesses and schools to train young people. What is PUM role in this regard? Jos: ‘There are businesses that would be all too happy to train students, but simply lack the classrooms or dormitories to accommodate the participants. SKY therefore organises and pays for bed and board in such cases. PUM provides the businesses with substantive expertise, as well as compiling the training curriculum for instance. We designate the appropriate expert on the basis of the request submitted by either AVSI or one of the thirty businesses and schools.’

6,000 young people are to receive agribusiness training as part of the SKY project

Programme-based approach

‘The good thing about SKY is that we do not focus purely on the participating company, but also consider the further possibilities in the surrounding area. After all, the lack of large-scale resources in Uganda continues to hamper the dissemination of knowledge there. We therefore seek to adopt a programme-based approach, with a view to achieving greater impact. By pursuing numerous projects simultaneously, we can ensure that the knowledge and skills spread like an oil slick. This makes it all the more vital to carefully select the businesses that we cooperate with. They need to open their doors not only to us, but also to the exchange with other businesses.’

Strenghten position

Josephat Byaruhanga, Agriculture Counsellor at the Embassy in Uganda, is highly enthusiastic about PUM’s contribution to SKY. ‘The PUM programme helps strengthen young people’s position in the SME sector, by improving the entrepreneurial and management capabilities of the junior enterprises. PUM also provides the knowledge and skills that are required to do business with the Dutch private sector. Furthermore, it expands the level of knowledge and skills, thereby boosting both the professional growth and the competitiveness of the agribusinesses. I sincerely hope we will be able to further expand the support that PUM provides in Uganda, as demand continues to increase. So far, experience has shown that PUM has remarkable potential to help Ugandan SMEs achieve growth.’

Sharing knowledge

PUM sincerely shares this sentiment. Some businesses nevertheless remain rather reluctant to take part. Jos: ‘We have already noticed this in the bread industry. People fear that competitors might steal their good ideas. We in the Netherlands are accustomed to consulting one another and sharing knowledge. There is a distinct cultural difference in this regard. It will simply take time and considerable patience to convince people of the benefits of cooperation. It nevertheless remains our aim to ensure that PUM experts share their knowledge with as many businesses and students as possible, and we shall therefore endeavour to achieve it.’

A PUM expert since 2010, Jos Welzen (65) has carried out missions in countries including Ethiopia and Colombia. He was appointed Country Coordinator Uganda in early 2016. Prior to retiring, he served as the CEO of business units supplying electronic components at major firms including Philips and Yageo.
Samuele Otim Rizzo, Chief of Party AVSI Foundation SKY Project: ‘Many of our partners are extremely pleased with the exchange of knowledge and the technical support provided by the PUM experts. I personally consider it highly commendable that so many retired Dutch experts are prepared to contribute their time, knowledge and skills, with a view to promoting growth in emerging economies. We greatly appreciate this, and look forward to the opportunity to further enhance our cooperation.’ 
> avsi-skyresults.ugKY is therefore making a valuable contribution to the development of the region.’