A total of 661 young females have graduated in the first batch of the Skilling Uganda program after six months of training. The graduands were commissioned on Monday at a ceremony attended by President Yoweri Museveni at Kololo independence grounds in Kampala.
The graduation climaxes months of training in tailoring, bakery, weaving, knitting, embroidery and shoe making and other leather related products.
Initiated by President Museveni, the Skilling Uganda program seeks to solve the increasing problem of youth unemployment particularly for the girls in Uganda. The pioneering cycle of the training cost Shs.1.2 billion, Museveni said.
At the graduation, Museveni gave out to each of the 661 graduands working equipment relating to their field of training.
He urged them to take advantage of the readily available Ugandan market that largely depends on imports and produce quality goods to sell within the country and rid themselves of poverty.
“Ugandans are rich and you don’t have to look anywhere for the start because we import all the things we use in our lives and you need to produce and substitute all those things we import from Asia and other continents,” the President said in his remarks.
Museveni said that liberating Uganda’s economy requires efforts tailored to fighting poverty and unemployment which are Uganda’s biggest problems.
“We spend USD 7 billion annually on imports yet we are able to produce most of them here, especially domestic consumables, and it is high time we engaged in import substitution,” he added.
The President noted that continued exportation of raw materials while importing finished products, donates the country’s millions of jobs that the youth dearly need thus escalating the country’s unemployment challenge.
“We can’t continue donating jobs to the developed countries because we need them more than those countries and we are ready to give you all the machinery you need and the start-up capital so that you are able to start your own business and employ yourselves,” he added.
At the same event, the President warned government officials who are wasteful in spending public resources at a time when the country is grappling with poverty and unemployment.
He said that if Skilling Uganda is prioritized along with efficiency in government spending, Uganda will get more young people in employment.
He advised the young female graduands to put the skills and the machines they have acquired to the right use and work to eradicate poverty in their homes and also train others in their localities.
One of the graduands, Nakajubi Christine thanked the President for investing in the girl child, the majority of whom hail from very poor backgrounds and low levels of education.
She said that the training and support will help them live a wholesome life in addition to making them job makers as opposed to job seekers.
The State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs Nakiwala Kiyingi commended the President for initiating the programme that targets the girl child.
She revealed that research has found that skilling and equipping the girl child goes a long way in reducing the rate of early marriages and unplanned pregnancy that impact negatively on the life of the girl child as it also affects national economic growth.