“I am looking forward to finishing my degree course at the University, get a job and build a house for my mother and also make a difference in my community [sic].”

UCTF Student


The African Development Bank estimates that 83% of young people (aged 15-24) in Uganda are unemployed. It is widely understood that education in Uganda does not equip young people with the skills necessary for entering the job market, neither as an employee nor as self-employed. At UCTF, we believe that providing a quality education to underprivileged children is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.  However, given this gap between education and economic empowerment, it is arguable that we are not breaking the cycle of poverty simply by providing education. Indeed, we do a disservice to the young people if we provide them with a quality education but do not equip them with the tools to translate it into economic empowerment.


Under the current system, UCTF students face the risk of unemployment, as scholarship support is not enough to ensure employment upon graduation. Our Dec 2015 class of graduates particularly highlights the issue, with only a quarter successfully securing paid employment. UCTF’s industry contacts point out that although the students are academically bright, they not employment ready upon graduation. The reality is, the current Ugandan education system does not equip children with the tools nor the resources required to achieve a successful, long-term career in the job market. We identify 4 key challenges:

Ø  Lack of jobs - It is estimated that 400,000 graduates are released annually into the job market to compete for only 150,000 (Ugandan Investment Authority) available jobs. Only 3.2% of youth work for waged employment, whilst 90.9% work for informal employment, and 5.8% are self-employed.

Ø  Gender inequality – Despite Goal 3 of the UN Development Goals, to promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, women still face significant barriers to finding employment. The median monthly salary for women in paid employment (UGX. 40,000) is half that for men. According to the School to Work Transition Survey, about 42% of females take more than a year between school and their first job compared to 33% of men.

Ø  Lack of motivation and awareness – One of the problems facing young people is a lack of motivation. Applying for work requires time and effort, which seems to dissuade young people from trying. Another issue demonstrated by some members is the belief that certain jobs are beneath them.

Ø  Lack of parental support – Some parents do not provide their children with adequate career support and fail to appreciate the link between education and future earnings. One study in Madagascar showed that informing parents of the impact that education has on future earnings improves support for the child and impacts his/her academic performance. 

We believe there is an urgent need to supplement the outdated curriculum, and to tackle the widening gap between education and employment. Thus, we hope to supplement our students’ education to ensure they are equipped with the skills required for employment.

OBJECTIVES OF THE Y.E.S. (Youth Employment Skills) Programme

Bridging the gap between education and employment

1.       Complement UCTF students education by teaching skills not provided by schools: employment skills, communication skills, functional (e.g. IT) skills, financial literacy.

2.       Encourage students to build social and professional networks by introducing young people to professionals who can provide inspirational advice and assist them in building a professional network. Additionally, promote a social network amongst the YES Programme members to encourage support of one another and ideas sharing.

3.       Publicise and signpost employment opportunities by regularly providing information on current job and internship opportunities.

4.       Provide career guidance to young people at each stage, specifically focussing on encouraging people to study subjects for which there are jobs available.

5.       Develop business and entrepreneurship skills to address the fact that there are a limited number of jobs available and students need to be competitive to secure employment.

6.       Promote equal opportunities especially for women.

7.       Educate parents and guardians on the benefits of education and career guidance so they can adequately support young people through their education and career choices.


Our primary goal is to improve the employability of UCTF students. A key metric to determine the overall success of the programme is the percentage of students in employment 12 months after graduation. Our goal is to achieve 100%. In order to closely monitor the effectiveness of the programme, we will closely monitor a range of metrics throughout the year. This will range from IT efficiency, workshop attendance to financial literacy tests.  


To ensure there is structure to the programme, the following calendar summarises key events that will be offered to UCTF students. The workshops will cover areas such as presentation skills, financial literacy, core and advanced IT skills, and the process for applying for a job (CV and cover letter writing, preparing for interviews, etc). This will be supplemented by 1on1 CV clinics, the alumni mentoring programme and ad-hoc events.


Event #1

Event #2


Annual Careers Week



Motivational Speaker

Introduction to YES Programme for Parents


Motivational Speaker

Workshop #1


Motivational Speaker



Motivational Speaker

Workshop #2


Motivational Speaker



Motivational Speaker

Workshop #3


Motivational Speaker

UCTF Women’s Dinner


Motivational Speaker

Workshop #4


Motivational Speaker



Motivational Speaker

Workshop #5


Motivational Speaker

Introduction to YES Programme for new students (S4, S6)



Our aim is to create a programme that can be run on the ground and delivered by UCTF staff.

The programme was soft launched in May 2016 by UK volunteers on a pro-bono basis. In order to retain and continue this work over the next 6-12 months, we aim to identify and up-skill a UCTF alumnus to:

1.       Deliver the employment skill workshops on a long term basis

2.       Maintain and build corporate contacts to nurture mentoring relationships, employment opportunities and speakers at career weeks

The individual will be trained and equipped with the tools (material and scripts) to deliver the initiatives and one-to-one mentoring sessions. Although the individual would have limited ‘real life’ employment experience, strong relationships with leaders/mentors could act as a support network. Up-skilling our own-grown talent would keep cost base lower and ensure consistency year on year beyond 2016.

60,000- 70,000 children leave secondary school each year qualified to go on to higher education, only 35% (at most 25,000) find places at limited number of institutions.