President Museveni Commended for Fighting Unemployment Through Skilling the Youth

The Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Hon. Peter Lokeris has commended President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for fighting unemployment among the youth through various interventions such as the Presidential Industrial Zonal Hubs project.

Currently, there are 19 Industrial Zonal Hubs spread across the country.

“Our President is thinking for us all the people of Uganda. He even put up a special program for Karamoja to develop it because it was lagging behind,” he assured.

The Minister made the remarks today as the Chief Guest during the second graduation of 423 students who successfully completed their vocational training at Napak Presidential Industrial Skilling hub in Napak District.

The graduates who represent a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences from the nine districts such as Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Kotido, Karenga, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Kaabong and the two municipalities of Moroto and Kotido in the Karamoja region were awarded with certificates in seven (7) employable vocational disciplines namely; Tailoring and design, Hairdressing and makeup, Building and Construction Practice, Carpentry & Joinery, Welding and metal fabrications, Bakery & Confectionery and Leather processing (shoe making).

Hon. Lokeris explained that President Museveni initiated the skilling program with a main focus of fighting poverty among the Ugandan youth.

“The President came up with this idea to train the youth to be skilled in order to stop being redundant. The idea was to get the youth into groups so that they can get skills irrespective of their education background. All this is to get you out of poverty and improve your livelihoods,” the Minister noted.

The Minister also hailed what he termed as visionary and strategic initiative of His Excellency the President to skill the uneducated youth which he said has done a lot in increasing the number of skilled workforces in Karamoja and across the country.

“People were saying there were not enough skilled people here to build houses but now you have the skills in construction. When I was still a minister in charge of roads, we did not have any Karamojong employed in the construction of Soroti-Moroto road. Those engineers told me that a few they hired never went back once they got paid some money. This is now going to stop because you are qualified people and know what to do professionally. This president of yours is really thinking about you,” Minister Lokeris said.

He also assured the graduates that with the skills they have acquired, they will be able to get jobs and earn a living.

“When you set up businesses and they become successful, you will be able to pay taxes that develop the country. We have told people that this kind of project is for everyone. The good thing is, it is not for highly educated people, even those who have not gone to school are shown what to do and they can do it. It doesn’t matter if you know English or not; English is just a language. They will look for you because the jobs are with you. That talent which you have acquired is a job itself,” Hon. Lokeris said.

The State House Comptroller, Ms. Jane Barekye congratulated the graduands upon achieving the milestone.

“I want to thank the Ministry of Education under the leadership of Maama Janet Museveni for giving us a chance to allow our certificate to be legalised by the Directorate of Industrial Training. This is a heavy certificate which can take you to levels until you reach a Phd,” Ms. Barekye said.

She thanked the Ministry of Local Government for providing the Industrial Hub project with land to set up the facility in order to achieve the goals of the program.

Ms. Barekye further thanked the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) for changing the mindset of the beneficiaries during their time of study at the hub.

On the other hand, the State House Comptroller reiterated why the President initiated the skilling program. She said it was among President Museveni’s economic interventions with a mission to among other; reduce unemployment among the youth- educated and not educated, make more youth job creators not job seekers, bridge the gap between the employed and unemployed, improve household incomes, substitute imports and promote exports.

“He has achieved all those objectives based on the testimonies you have heard from here,” Ms. Barekye informed the Minister.

“As State House, we have a plan which is awaiting approval of the finances by the President of starting a common user facility in some of the districts of the region so that when these people finish, they can go work from there as a group, get some capital from their savings and go start their own businesses to earn a living,” she added.

Ms. Barekye further asked leaders in Karamoja to make it a policy for non-government organisations to employ the graduates while doing any work within the region. She says this will help the skilled youths to put their skills into practice.

“Karamoja has so many NGOs who come here and have a lot of work they are doing where our skilled children can get involved. Put it as a condition that if you’re starting any project here, you have to employ our people who have been trained by the presidential skilling hub. Why should they buy things from other areas or bring people from Kampala to do the work that our graduates can do?” she noted.

The Napak District LCV Chairperson, Mr. John Paul Kodet revealed that when they started the program, the turn up was too low because majority of the would-be beneficiaries feared to join the program due to the insecurity in the area but following the efforts of the UPDF, the region was pacified, and peace was registered thus registering a good number of beneficiaries in the second and third intakes.

“That is the reason we were able to register 204 students in the second intake and 219 in the third intake. We are progressively moving forward. I want to thank the UPDF 3rd Division Commander, Maj Gen. Don Nabasa for bringing peace and sanity in the sub region that has enabled the students to acquire the skills uninterrupted,” he said.

He advised the graduates to put the skills acquired into good use so that they can benefit from them.

The UPDF 3rd Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Don Nabasa thanked President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for his guidance and wisdom that enabled him to initiate the skilling program aimed at transforming the youth.

“Majority of these beneficiaries had lost hope and dropped out of school. Some of them were potential warriors and were about to join the other work so that they are able to make some living. But after being here, they are very changed people and I attribute this to the wonderful initiative that our Commander In Chief put in place and being supervised by the State House Comptroller and her team. Thank you very much for the wonderful work,” he said.

“They are very serious citizens of this country. They have learnt a skill that will enable them to earn a living.”

The Director of the Directorate of Industrial Training, Mr. Patrick Byakatonda assured the graduates that their certificates are highly recognized, and they are equivalent to S.4 certificates.

“The qualification which you have got is a highly recognised qualification.”

The hub manager, Mr. Charles Lotiang thanked the State House Comptroller and her team for providing all the necessary requirements needed to run the day-to-day operations of the hub.

Mr. Lotyang however requested the government to put up a special fund program that could provide start-up capital for the graduates.

Through their testimonies, several graduates who are now employed expressed gratitude to President Museveni for skilling them with knowledge that has enabled them to earn a living.

Losike Francis who hails from Nabilatuk told the gathering that after gaining skills in building and construction he only spent two days at home, and he was invited for a job in a certain construction company in Moroto. “I thank H.E the President for giving us this opportunity to be here,” he added.

Abu Rebecca from Kotido Municipality said the hair dressing and make up course has changed her life.

“When I came here, I did not know anything but after the course, I started plaiting my friends’ hair at home. Some lady got interested in my work and employed me in her big saloon. Now, I’m happy that I earn some money to support myself and my parents as well,” Rebecca said.

Okot Thomas Ariong from Kotido acquired skills in carpentry and joinery: When I came here, I had no hope, but I have managed to acquire some skills. I really thank the government for this initiative. I am an orphan but because of the skills I got, I’m able to pay school fees for my sister. God bless President Museveni,” Okot Thomas said.

The ceremony was also attended by District leaders from Karamoja, LC5 Chairpersons, Security officers, Youth leaders and parents.