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Minister Amongi: Uganda to create over 2.6m jobs by 2025

With an average of 520,000 jobs a year, Amongi said that the highest number of jobs (about 1.37 million) is expected to come from the services sector, with the Trade subsector contributing the largest proportion, while Agriculture is expected to be the second largest contributor, followed the manufacturing sector.

The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon Betty Amongi addressing the 2023 Annual Labour Conference at Kampala Serena Hotel on Wednesday, April 26 (Photo/Handout)

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon Betty Amongi Ongom has revealed that with the current growth of Uganda’s economy, the country is now in position to create 2.6 million jobs as per the National Development Plan (NDP III) period (2021-24/25).

With an average of 520,000 jobs a year, Amongi said that the highest number of jobs (about 1.37 million) is expected to come from the services sector, with the Trade subsector contributing the largest proportion, while Agriculture is expected to be the second largest contributor, followed the manufacturing sector.

“We are confident with the current Uganda’s overall broad growth strategy which envisioned the creation of 2.6 million jobs over the course of NDP III period (2021-24/25), with an annual average of 520,000 jobs. The highest number of jobs (1.378 million jobs) is expected to come from the services sector with the Trade subsector contributing the largest proportion. Agriculture will be the second highest contributor to jobs, followed by industry whose largest share of jobs will arise from manufacturing,” Amongi said while officiating at the inaugural annual Labour Conference held at Kampala Serena Hotel on Wednesday afternoon.

The Annual Labour Conference focused on “Addressing the challenges facing the Ugandan workforce” is part of the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development’s activities ahead of this year’s International Labour Day, to be marked on Monday, 1st May 2023.

Among explained that the key strategy undertaken by her ministry to achieve the goal by 2025 is focusing on stimulating employment in agriculture through PDM, OWC etc which requires robust collective mobilization to fill the gap of the required jobs required in the next two decades.

She justified this by saying that 41% of the total working-age population is engaged in subsistence farming which means that a substantial proportion of the workforce neither generates an income nor engages with the markets, while other emerging changes like technology has changed the nature of work and demand for skills.

“Technology has altered access to jobs shifting the way of work from the informal sector to digital platforms. Data indicates that online jobs constitute about 7%.”

The minister also revealed that most employees in workplaces she visited are unaware of their employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment and their rights in the workplace, and therefore called upon stakeholders in the labour to create a conducive environment that improves the conditions of workers.

“My visit to various workplaces has established that most workers were unaware of their employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment, and many did not challenge unsafe working conditions due to fear of losing their jobs,” Amongi said.

She added; “Some employers resort to subcontracting and outsourcing services or hiring workers temporarily to avoid the responsibilities of compensating injured workers and dodging contributing to NSSF for employees.”

The conference was graced by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga as the Chief Guest, among a host of Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Development Partners, and leaders of worker’s and employer’s unions in attendance.

Below is Minister Amongi’s full speech;

ANNUAL LABOUR CONFERENCE; SPEECH BY AMONGI BETTY ONGOM, MP – MINISTER OF GENDER, LABOUR AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

The Chief Guest and Key Note Speaker, Rt. Hon. Rebecca. A. Kadaga, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs,
The Attorney General, Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka,
The Inspector General of Government, Hon. Beti Kamya Turwomwe,
Head of Public Service/Secretary to Cabinet
Deputy Head of Public Service/Deputy Secretary to Cabinet
Permanent Secretaries,
Development Partners,
Representatives of Workers,
Representatives of Employers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this Annual National Labour Conference organized by my Ministry. In a special way, I welcome our keynote Speaker, Rt Hon. Rebecca A. Kadaga, and thank you for sparing time to come and share with Ugandans this important theme of work culture and ethics.

Uganda’s population of around 45 million is expected to reach 100 million by 2050, while the annual urban growth rate of 5.2% is among the fastest in the world. Uganda’s total working population (15-64 years) is 23.5 million people out of which 11.3 million constitute the labour force with 10 million employed while 1.3 million are unemployed. The majority of those employed (88%) work in the informal sector because the formal sector is very small. Around 69% of the population is below 25 years old, illustrating a mounting youth bulge; This youth bulge is creating mounting pressure on formal job creation in Uganda. In practice, most find income generation in the informal economy under vulnerable working conditions. eg welding, carpentry, construction site labourers, bricklaying, crafts, tailoring, hawking etc

The national unemployment rate is 9.2%, while the unemployment rate for youth aged 18-30 at 13.3%. Ugandans, and especially young Ugandans, are highly likely to be underemployed, in precarious and non-rewarding work, or in jobs that cannot offer decent incomes. 83.5% of the Ugandan population aged between 15-29 work in informal jobs, and that figure is 10% higher for young women than men.

Although informality doesn’t necessarily imply poor job quality, in Uganda, there is a strong correlation between the two. 41% of the total working-age population is engaged in subsistence farming, which means that a substantial proportion of the workforce neither generates an income nor engages with markets. Overall, the high prevalence of informality skews the unemployment rate, resulting in an inaccurate reflection of the realities of the Ugandan labour market.

Self-employed workers stand at 60%, while contributing family workers constitute 13% in 2019. These two latter segments are set in “vulnerable employment” together, constitute 73% of Uganda’s total employment, and they are less likely to have formal work arrangements and are more likely to lack decent working conditions.

The agricultural sector continues dominating the job opportunities in Uganda, absorbing three out of four workers. Evolving employment in the service and industry sectors has been stalled at 21% and 7%, respectively. The sectoral aggregate GDP value-added trends support this meagre development in the employment structure

The fast-growing young workforce requires at least 700,000 jobs per year in the economy, and yet only around 75,000 formal jobs are currently created each year. According to the World Bank, raising employment and incomes further will require improving productivity in agriculture and opportunities for absorbing excess labour into more productive employment in industry and services.

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Although most workers were let go during the lockdown and 15% of workers migrated to other locations, 76% of the employees were recalled back to work by the same employer after lifting the lockdown restrictions.

COVID-19 brought changes into the world of work especially the rising power of new technology, globalisation and the newly emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which is changing the nature of work and the demand for skills. Further, technology has also altered how people access jobs, shifting the source of work away from informal labour and towards digital platforms. As with most disruptive technologies, platform work has the potential to grow even faster. Media listed through survey data indicated that three out of five youths are now involved in the gig economy. The gig economy encompasses freelancers involving less commitment for both workers and companies with work executed at agreeable terms, challenging the profession to hollow out the employment regulations in practice. (WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, online news/TV, YouTube etc)

The National Labour Force Survey 2018/19 revealed persons employed in the public sector earned more than twice those in the private sector. Monthly earnings gaps were likewise stark among informal workers compared to formal employment, the latter receiving more than twice than the former. The abundance of unskilled labour and low levels of human capital can partly explain the lower wages/salaries in the private sector and for paid employees in informal employment.

According to the Equal Opportunities Commission, a constitutional body mandated to eliminate discrimination and inequalities, the wage disparities in Uganda are viewed as a cause of concern for the country’s efforts to keep its best professionals at home. First, brain drain has affected the economy. For example, neighbouring countries are benefitting from many of Uganda’s professionals, especially in the medical and education fields.

The labour law provides for district labour inspectors to help enforce decent work environment, however, LABOUR officers at local governments are only carrying out a few labour inspections in practice due to inadequate training, funding, logistical support, and lack of labour inspectors in some districts. In 2020, 81 labour inspectors covered more than 130 districts, equalled one inspector close to 49,000 employees (or one labour inspector to 210,000 total employed). This as left many unsolved LABOUR disputes.

My visits in work places has established that most workers were unaware of their employers’ responsibility to ensure a safe working environment, and many did not challenge unsafe working conditions due to fear of losing their jobs. Some employers resort to subcontracting and outsourcing services or hire workers temporarily to avoid the responsibilities of compensating injured workers and dodging contributing to NSSF for employees. Many employers in industrial parks do not give employees written employment contracts, resulting in a lack of job security and union representation and yet It is a legal requirement in Uganda for the employer to provide an employment contract for each employee. In practice, just 30% of employees are engaged with a written contract

Although legislation establishes occupational safety and health (OSH) standards and regulations for all workers, violations of these, such as standard wages and overtime pay, are typical in several sectors in Uganda. Reports list that violations of standard wages, overtime pay, or safety and health standards were common in the manufacturing industry. Workers in the mining, construction and textile sectors faced hazardous and exploitive working conditions. We request your excellency you support in this field. We have started engagements with FEDERATION OF UGANDA EMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION, UMA, PSFU etc to ensure that we work together to rectify this state of affairs.

THE NEED TO PROMOTE POSITIVE WORK CULTURE AND ETHICS AS A PREREQUISITE FOR INCREASED INVESTMENT, EMPOWERMENT OPPORTUNITIES AND HOUSEHOLD INCOMES

Unethical business practices and ethical misconduct remains a key concern to many employers. Integrity breakdown can dramatically cost a business millions of dollars and even prison time in some extremely serious cases.

Money remains the highest contender as to why employees may choose to undertake unethical behavior. From the perspective of employers, Some of the unethical behaviors they experiencing are employees reporting late and leaving office early, executives sexually harassing women for jobs, employee taking money from the company to use in his own agenda on the side ( they start their own businesses) etc. Corruption manifesting in forms of;
Bribery: accepting items in return for a preferential treatment
Fraud: dishonest and illegal activities perpetrated by individuals or companies in order to provide an advantageous financial outcome to those persons or establishments
Embezzlement: taking the company’s goods or funds for personal gain is called embezzlement
Kickbacks: payments made to businesses by vendors in exchange for contracts that overinflate the cost of the work performed at the expense of those receiving the services, and paying for the contract,
This has made most companies bring most top executive employees from abroad through Professional out-Sourcing.

On the other hand, government agencies has also complained that companies are practicing unethical business practices including Avoiding tax payments, imposing Huge workloads on employees which create high stress at work and at home, shady business practices like false accounting, money laundering, underpaying workers, abusing worker’s, summarily dismissal etc.

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And yet all the above practices leads to low labor productivity and requires addressing. Already, the labour productivity of the working population is low, estimated at US$ 2,724.8 per worker per annum. These challenges negatively impact on the economic and job growth and require concerted effort to address them.

Addressing the challenges that limit productive employment require a multipronged approach that will address the numerous barriers to labour productivity One of which is poor work culture and ethics and the theme for this years’ National Labour Day celebrations being “Promoting Positive Work Culture and Ethics: A Prerequisite for Increased Investment, Employment Opportunities and Household Incomes”.

We are confident with the current Uganda’s overall broad growth strategy which envisioned the creation of 2.6 million jobs over the course of NDP III period (2021-24/25), with an annual average of 520,000 jobs. The highest number of jobs (1.378 million jobs) is expected to come from the services sector with the Trade subsector contributing the largest proportion. Agriculture will be the second highest contributor to jobs, followed by industry whose largest share of jobs will arise from manufacturing. The key strategies focusing on stimulating employment in agriculture through PDM, OWC etc requires robust collective mobilization to fill the gap of the required jobs required in the next two decades.

I therefore, call on us to improve on our work ethics to enable us achieve our goal of creating employment opportunities for most of our workers, improve the conditions of workers, and Stimulate growth.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ministry in collaboration with other Agencies and Development Partners, has already embarked on the journey towards improving positive work culture and ethics.

As I conclude, allow me to thank the Ministry’s technical team led by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Aggrey David Kibenge, for organising this conference. I thank ENABEL for trusted partnership towards this Conference.

I take this singular honour to invite the Guest of Honour, Rt Hon Rebecca A. Kadaga, to come and give a keynote address

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