Building on a successful first phase, the International Youth Foundation (IYF), in partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Restless Development, has launched a second round of internships in Uganda to improve job prospects for the country’s university and college graduates. Part of the four-year YouthMap initiative, the internship program is one important facet of IYF’s work to tackle Sub-Saharan Africa’s employment challenge.

Just last week, a new World Bank report announced that 11 million youth are expected to join Africa’s labor force every year for the next decade. Faced with this pressing need for jobs, YouthMap assesses youth circumstances on the ground and supports promising programs across the Sub-Saharan region. In Uganda, which has the world’s highest youth population and highest youth unemployment rate, program participants benefit from employability, leadership, life skills, and entrepreneurship training and placement in a six-month paid internship with employers in the public, private, and NGO sectors. 

“This is the kind of program that we need to ensure that Uganda’s youth have real opportunities to achieve their dreams and build their futures,” said Kyateka F. Mondo, Assistant Commissioner for Children and Youth Affairs in Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. The launch event for the second cohort of interns, held recently in Kampala, invited private employers, government leaders, as well as current and former YouthMap interns to discuss the urgent need to expand job opportunities for the country’s underserved youth.

Of the 50 interns who graduated last November, 75 percent have gained full-time formal employment, have started their own businesses, or are furthering their education.

To ensure continued success, the program has developed a dynamic network of public-private partnerships committed to improving youth employment opportunities. This list includes top government officials, financial institutions such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Barclays, and Crested Stock and Securities; the Aga Khan Foundation; and the Federation of Uganda Employers. In particular, local partner DFCU bank, who offered full-time jobs to all of its first five YouthMap interns, is hosting an additional eight interns from the second cohort.

“This program represents a paradigm shift in the Ugandan business sector,” noted Leslie Reed, USAID/Uganda Mission Director. “Employers are providing cost-sharing for interns and are increasingly interested in supporting young people’s transition to work.”

Of the 27 young men and women who were hired after completing their YouthMap internships, several were on hand at the event to pay tribute to the program. It “offers solutions to the unemployment problem we face,” said Doreen Nasuuna, who secured a job with Barclays Bank after her internship. Rebecca Ajambo, whose internship with a local NGO turned also into a job, added, “The weight of unemployment and dependency has been taken off my shoulders.”