Ms. Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator (standing, 3rd left), Mr. Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (4th left) together with Ms. Almaz Gebru, the UNDP Resident Representative a.i (4th right) and Ms. Safinah Museene, a Commissioner in the Ministry of Education and Sports (3rd right) with some of the Graduate Volunteer Scheme’s pioneer recruits during the launch event held in Kampala. (Photo credit: UNDP Uganda 2018).

Kampala, 5th December 2018 - The Government of Uganda with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme have launched the Uganda Graduate Volunteer Scheme (GVS).

The GVS scheme, the first of its kind in the country, is intended to address the persistent unemployment challenge Ugandan young graduates under 30 years. It will provide young graduates with much needed work place skills and experience both in the public and private sector. The scheme will leverage volunteerism as an essential mechanism for skills development.

The scheme was developed by UNDP and the UNV Programme working in collaboration with Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, on behalf of the Government of Uganda.

“With 78% of Uganda’s population comprised of youth, there is need to devise new approaches and mechanisms for creating employment for the youth. This scheme is one of those approaches,” Ms. Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator said during the launch held in Kampala on December 5, 2018.

 She added that the joint efforts of the government, the UN and other development partners would ensure that Uganda’s young people can secure decent work enabling them to contribute to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development.

 The UGVS will specifically provide young graduates, below 30 years leaving institutions of higher learning, access to work spaces to gain employability skills on an annual basis. This is in line with the national development strategy to increase availability and quality of gainful employment and enhancing human capital development in the Country. The Graduate Volunteers will receive a package of services including; coaching, mentorship, learning from enterprise role models, connection to potential employers in the private and public sectors, and facilitation for access to finance. Already, 100 graduates have been recruited, trained and placed with 22 host institutions.

“We have 100 now, however, our aspiration is to have 500 young graduates placed in various institutions for 12months as volunteers,” Ms. Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator said.

She also proposed to have the scheme institutionalised as a formal Public-Private-Partnership mechanism, in the future, so that it benefits many more young people.

 “Believe in yourself, have clear values and aspirations for yourself. Build your brand and a strong reputation of performance through team building, and you will achieve all the goals you set out for. Be ready to serve and learn,” Ms. Malango told the pioneer youth who also attended the event.

The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Honourable Janat Mukwaya, observed that youth unemployment persists due to limited of work experience, lack of skills needed by labour market and limited connection to enterprise role models and innovative solutions.

 “Work-based learning graduate volunteerism and the apprenticeship system is therefore one of the avenues for both the school-to-work transitions for young people and for the up-skilling of existing workers,” Minister Mukwaya said in a speech read for her by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Pius Bigirimana.

On his part, Mr Bigirimana said that the Graduate Volunteer Scheme would help put in place a solid policy recognising volunteerism as a pathway to employment.

“The future prosperity of Uganda depends on the number of people in employment and how productive they are at work. This scheme is one way to ensure that our youth have the hands on skills to ensure the nation’s prosperity,” Mr. Bigirimana said.

Hajat Safinah Museene, a Commissioner in the Ministry of Education and Sports, said the Uganda Graduate Volunteer Scheme would complement the government’s Business, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) policy.

The launch of the Graduate Volunteer Scheme coincided with the International Volunteers’ Day (IVD) which is commemorated on 5th December annually. Its theme for 2018, “Volunteers Build Resilient Communities” ties right in with goals of the scheme.

“Volunteering helps communities to take control and to shape their own future. In a world evolving rapidly, local volunteers play a crucial role in bringing the United Nations commitment to leave no one behind to fruition,” Mr. Olivier Adam, the UNV Executive Coordinator said in his message to mark the day.

How the Graduate Volunteer Scheme Works:

Graduates intending to volunteer and host institutions can apply online through the link: http://gvsuganda.org/. The prospective volunteers are shortlisted and then matched to possible host institutions, depending on the available placement opportunities.  The process of matching and placing volunteers is carried out by a selection committee comprised of representatives from UNDP Uganda, UNV Uganda and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development as well as Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE) which represents host institutions.  Once in board, volunteers go through a three-day residential orientation training to induct them prior to their 12 months placement.

Institutions which offered to host the first cohort of volunteers:

Over 20 institutions offered to host the graduate volunteers. These include; Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development; National Planning Authority (NPA), Makerere University College of Agriculture & Environment,  National Youth Council, Uganda Blood Transfusion Service (UBTS), Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE), Nation Media Group, Hima Cement Ltd, UMEME Limited, Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs (UPFYA), Greenheat (U) Ltd, Self-Help Africa (SHA), Agripoint Initiatives Limited, Global Health Network Uganda, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, World Vision Uganda, Catholic Relief Services, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), and Help Child Karamoja (HCK). 

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