Coca-Cola Beverages Uganda (CCBU), days ago joined Ugandans and the rest of the world to mark World Youth Skills Day, a day that celebrates the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.
The 2023 theme – Skilling teachers, trainers and youth for a transformative future – highlights the essential role that teachers, trainers and other educators play in providing skills for youth to transition to the labour market and to actively engage in their communities and societies.
CCBU partnered with the Boundless Minds to roll out the Youth Economic Inclusion programme in 2020, to empower youth, enhancing and enriching their skills through digital coaching.
This year, the company set out to upskill 10,000 youth in 10 higher education institutions across the country with work-readiness skills to support their school-to-work transition through digital coaching and in-person career clinics.
Kirunda Magoola, CCBU Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability Director, says the Youth Economic Inclusion programme was launched at the peak of Covid-19 to bridge the mentorship gap created by the closure of schools, but continues to expand and equip youth beyond the pandemic.
This, he says, underpins CCBU’s vision of refreshing Africa everyday and making the continent a better place for all.
“We always want to help young people maximize their potential. As we mark World Youth Skills Day, it is our pledge that we will continue to mentor young people and support each other to grow together. Skilling is an essential part of enhancing one’s abilities and it is our understanding that our business can only thrive if the people we serve have the ability to thrive too,” he says.
“We want to create inclusive growth opportunities by defining a consistent way of implementing economic inclusion programmes and leveraging leading practice for implementing our programmes,” he adds.
Youth in Uganda remain largely disadvantaged due to a highly competitive job market that is characterized by an acute lack of opportunities. In 2021, the National Planning Authority (NPA) reported that 87% of Ugandans who had completed their education are unemployed and 20% of those that find jobs are underemployed due to a skills gap.
The high rate of unemployment has been identified as one of the reasons that has caused the country to lag behind and limit its ability to attain middle-income status by 2040.
This is why, beyond the Boundless Minds Youth Economic Inclusion programme, CCBU has also put in place other measures such as the Graduate In Training (GIT) program, which helps to mitigate unemployment challenges.
The programme enrolls trainees from universities and gives them the opportunity to train and learn from the business, before eventually absorbing them as employees. This year, the company offered permanent employment to all nine graduate trainees in different departments.
CCBU also offers internship programmes to learners in higher institutions of learning to equip them with ready-to-work and development skills as a way of building the country and shaping the next generation.
“Our aim is to create greater shared opportunity for our business and the communities we serve across the value-chain. Opportunity is more than just money, it’s about a better future for people and their communities everywhere on the African continent,” says Magoola. “When we grow our business the right way, not just the easy way, we help create inclusive growth opportunities for our communities, women and youth, our customers, our employees and our shareholders, for a better shared future.”