Higher concentrations of NEETs are in Bukedi (61.4 percent), Lango (49.3 percent), Elgon (44.1 percent), Busoga (43.5 percent), Bunyoro (42.5 percent), and Kigezi (42.1 percent). The majority of them are unskilled (58 percent), from large poor rural households, disabled, substance abusers, and mostly between 25 to 27 years old.
A recent report from the
National Planning Authority (NPA) has revealed that 4.2 million youths in
Uganda are 'Neither in Employment, Education, nor Training- NEETs, representing
41 percent of the country's younger population. In addition to high
unemployment rates, young people aged 18 to 29 are consistently disengaged from
the labor market, education, training, and broader societal activities.
Despite Uganda's economy
generating 1.6 million jobs between 2016 and 2021, a significant number of
youths struggle to secure employment or create their own opportunities. This
has led to an increase in the unemployment rate from 13 percent to 16.5 percent.
The NEETs population has been increasing at a rate of 8.4 percent over the past
decade, raising the number from 2.5 million to the current 4.2 million. It is
projected to increase to 5.8 million in 2031/32 if nothing changes.
Furthermore, the report indicates
that NEETs numbers are distributed according to regional poverty levels in the
country. Higher concentrations of NEETs are in Bukedi (61.4 percent), Lango
(49.3 percent), Elgon (44.1 percent), Busoga (43.5 percent), Bunyoro (42.5
percent), and Kigezi (42.1 percent). The majority of them are unskilled (58
percent), from large poor rural households, disabled, substance abusers, and
mostly between 25 to 27 years old.
During the launch of this report in Kampala
on Tuesday, Hamis Mugendawala, the NPA manager for policy research, noted that
NEETs are a result of a number of factors that need urgent attention. Most of
them drop out of school in or immediately after primary five.
"Many youth NEETs leave
school early due to a lack of funds, and being female is associated with being
NEET, as they give up school or work due to gender roles society attaches to
The socioeconomic status of one's family is also a major determinant.
Those from richer households are less likely to become NEETs (27 percent), whereas
those with a poor background have a 60 percent chance," Mugendawala said.
According to Mugendawala,
NEETs are a significant economic loss to the country, affecting personal
incomes, households, and communities, and transcending to affect the nation's GDP.
This report comes at a time
when the country has aggressively invested in youth empowerment and development
interventions, but Mugendawala notes that, with an average of 297,042 jobs
annually, agriculture stands as the primary source of jobs in the country.
could also suit most of the NEETs' skill sets, but they were reluctant to join
due to unguaranteed financial returns, hence preferring economic activities
like sand mining, stone quarrying, and the like, with at least a guaranteed
daily income. Whereas those interested in agriculture faced limitations,
starting with land ownership.
The NEETs also face barriers
to reskilling, which could help them enter the labor market.
mentions that these barriers are mainly financial and structural. What seems to
be working for the NEETs is the Presidential Industrial Zonal Skilling Hubs,
but they also have limitations.
//Cue in; “In
Cue out; … of the NEETs,”//
Meanwhile, Martin Wandera, the
director for labor, employment, and occupational safety and health at the
Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, disputed the report,
stating that 4.2 million youth is such a big number. He suggests the report
should be revised to align with updated statistics from the Ministry of Gender.
He adds that the report
excluded a number of vital parameters like housewives and working-age
variations, which could have been considered if the report was to be more
comprehensive. According to Wandera, the NEETs' numbers are about 2.5 million
when all the required factors and categorizations are considered, bringing the
concern to 24 percent rather than 41 percent.