Skills discrepancy. It has frequently been cited that each year, more than 400,000 graduates enter the Uganda job market, which unfortunately has an absorption capacity of arguably fewer than 100,000. There have further been glaring reports about the skills discrepancy among the lucky few who get jobs and yet are “half-baked” and thus unable to successfully deliver at these jobs
October 11 marked the 6th commemoration of the International Day of the Girl-child since its declaration in 2011 and first celebration in 2012. It was founded with among others, the aim of highlighting and addressing the needs and challenges girls face and to promote their empowerment. This years’ theme: ‘With Her, A Skilled Girl Force’, specifically seeks to expand existing learning opportunities for girls and it challenges us all to rethink the ways in which we are preparing them for successful transition into the world of work.
Speaking of those entering the world of work, it has frequently been cited that each year, more than 400,000 graduates enter the Uganda job market, which unfortunately has an absorption capacity of arguably fewer than 100,000. There have further been glaring reports about the skills discrepancy among the lucky few who get jobs and yet are “half baked” and thus unable to successfully deliver at these jobs. Given the extra demands and pressures on the girl-child, it would be even more interesting to explore statistics on the number of girls who graduate, but are unable to find meaningful employment.
Upon this backdrop, today presents me a befitting opportunity to raise my voice to the efforts to address, especially the ways and opportunities we ought to consider in shaping a skilled girl work force. As a Rotarian, I am currently running a campaign that is amplifying the theme for the Rotary year 2018; “Be the Inspiration”, whose overall objective is to encourage each one of us to be an inspiration for a better world. Therefore, keeping in line with today’s commemoration, I offer my own experiences as a source of inspiration to stimulate efforts and resolutions to empower fellow girls.
The truth is, girls need skills. Skills that will help them compete, contribute and excel. Many a time, we look to school/education as the major, if not only source of skilling. We, however, need to diversify channels through which important and more so, “non-academic”, soft skills can be accessed early enough. One such skill which I believe is critical in empowering our girls is leadership. How much are we doing to interest and instil the spirit of true leadership among our girls today?
As a young girl who only graduated recently, I indeed relate with the challenges of the annual 400,000 graduates. My leadership journey, however, inspires me to inspire fellow girls into leadership, as it has been an indispensable tool to neutralise the challenges of inadequate skills for employability. While at Makerere University, I campaigned and won to be the chairlady of Africa Hall. But, the real lesson behind my triumph was not the win. Prior to the win, I was a very shy person and never believed I could stand in front of people to speak. The real lesson is the confidence that I found to act on my passion and find the strength to overcome my fears.
This is what I would like to encourage every girl out there to always try and find; that boldness, that confidence, that resolution and that commitment to overcome your fears and fight for what you truly believe you can be. We need our girls to acquire the resolve to be leaders, not merely leaders in positions, but leaders of their own dreams and aspirations.
Leadership does not only arise from an individual turnaround of mindset like it was in my case. Instead, it is a skill that can be learned and, therefore, for which efforts should be made to nurture among our girls. To nurture this, however, the role of the environment within which leadership is inspired and groomed is a very important factor. We need to reflect about creating and encouraging our girls to find supporting environments within which skills such as leadership can be nurtured.
Over the past two years, I have experienced the responsibility and pride of serving as the secretary of the Rotary Club of Rubaga. Organised forums like Rotary are some of the enabling environments that we should encourage our young girls to join. Given the diversity of people and responsibilities therein, such environments provide opportunities for young people to learn, grow and serve in responsibilities of leadership.
But more importantly, such organised platforms are based on the principle of voluntary service, which on its own is a valuable mindset that we should instill among girls early enough. Many graduates wait to be employed yet they can invest their time in voluntary service where they can continue to not only learn relevant job skills, but more so, network so as to expand their employment opportunities.
As part of skilling our girl force, the role of mentorship is also invaluable. We need to avail ourselves to offer mentorship to girls and also encourage them to find role models who can mentor them. Mentorship provides an excellent opportunity to learn key skills from a practitioner’s perspective and experiences. How much are we investing and participating in mentorship programs for girls? I encourage fellow girls to find and reach out to people who exhibit the skills they cherish and would love to grow in themselves.
Be it only for the reason that we were all born of a woman, we owe it to the girl-child to actively support efforts that prepare them for the enormous responsibilities that await them. On my part, and among others through #MyRotaryStory campaign, I pledge to always #BeTheInspiration for positive initiatives that support the girl-child. I trust that by sharing my personal story, the story of what Rotary does and the story of the challenges and opportunities in our communities, I can be an inspiration for action. Through the platform of Rotary, we’ll continue to explore the possibility of partnering with good Samaritans to create service projects and campaigns that raise awareness and decisively respond to issues affecting the girl child. I welcome all your support.
Ms Nakintu is secretary, Rotary Club of Rubaga.