Kampala- A new report on the state of the world population has recommended that the youth need to acquire relevant knowledge and skills if developing countries like Uganda are to benefit from them for social and economic progress.

The youth population in the country accounts for more than 78 per cent of the entire population that currently stands at 34.9 million people. The state of Uganda Population Report 2014 shows that youth are grappling with unemployment which remains a major challenge.

Unemployment among youth stands at more than 65 per cent despite a 10 per cent employment rate, according to the report.

In the World Population Report 2014, Uganda is grouped together with Chad and Niger where half of the youth are under 16 years of age.

“Education is critical. The skills and knowledge young people acquire must be relevant to the current economy and enable them become innovators, thinkers and problem-solvers,” the report reads in part. It adds: “Lack of meaningful work among young people is playing into frustration that has in some instances contributed to social unrest or unmanaged migration.

Launched by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) last week in Kampala, the report cites dilemma in some countries where the number of youth population is outpacing the growth of the economy and outstripping the capacities of institutions charged with providing them basic services. Recently, Mr Amit Srivastava, the director Sai Pali Institute of Technology and Management, said his school is disappointed in Information Technology graduates who show up for interviews because they are too theoretical yet the industry needs practical skills.

“When you ask them anything to do with programming, networking or coding, they will give you very good theoretical explanations but when you ask them to go practical, they do not know anything,” Mr Srivastava added. According to the UNFPA executive director, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, investments in education and health, including sexual and reproductive health, are very central for the youth to make transition from adolescence to adulthood.“Strategic investments can allow young people to claim their rights to education, health, development and live free from violence and discrimination,” Dr Babatunde said. For Uganda to achieve its demographic dividend, the report states that investments are needed to build institutional capacity, strengthen human capital, pursue economic models that improve employment prospects and promote good governance.

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