The International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with Restless Development Uganda, have launched a new internship program in Uganda aimed at helping young people improve their employment prospects and contribute to the country’s broader economic development efforts. The program offers disadvantaged youth skills training, places them in six-month internships, and provides mentoring and professional development support to enter the job market. Interns are also contributing to USAID/Uganda’s learning agenda related to youth issues by conducting action research in their communities.

The program launch, held in Kampala on May 14th, was attended by USAID Mission Director Leslie Reed and Chargé d'Affaires, Virginia Blaser. The event featured a panel discussion on preparing Ugandan youth for the world of work, as well as remarks from the Mission Director and the Chargé d'Affaires. Over 120 participants attended, including young interns, business leaders, civil society representatives, advisory committee members, and government representatives including youth Members of Parliament (MPs) Gerald Karuhanga and Monicah Amoding.

The internship program is a component of YouthMap, a four-year IYF/USAID partnership designed to assess youth circumstances and support promising youth-focused development efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Building partnerships is central to our model of positive youth development and it is also critical to the success of this program. The relationships we have cultivated through YouthMap are contributing to an important paradigm shift in Uganda, as we are seeing private sector employers willing to contribute to internship costs. Through these internships, young people will be able to gain practical skills and the work experience necessary to break into the highly competitive job market,” said Mr. Awais Sufi, IYF Executive Vice President.

To date, over 20 companies, 10 USAID implementing partners, the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development (MGLSD), and the Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs are supporting IYF’s efforts. Five youth MPs are hosting interns, demonstrating their strong support for the program. “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 Commissioner Kyateka F. Mondo of Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. “YouthMap is helping develop a network of youth-friendly companies and working with the government to bridge the gap between the public and private sector. This program is also fostering a sense of community among business leaders and spurring them to support our disadvantaged youth.” An advisory committee provides technical guidance and supports policy and partnership development. Members include youth MPs, representatives from the MGLSD, MTN Uganda, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Crested Stocks and Securities, the DFCU Bank, and Aga Khan Foundation.

A first cohort of fifty youth, ages 23 to 30, will receive short-term skills training covering employability, leadership, and life skills, to be followed by a six-month internship with a variety of private, public, and civil society organizations in Kampala and the following USAID priority districts: Bushenyi, Kasese, Jinja, Busia, Gulu, and Lira. “Today’s young Ugandans have the potential to drive a new era of development and growth. Through this program, we are working closely with youth, employers, and government to build a flagship model linking talented young people to employment opportunities and positioning them as leaders in the public and private sectors,” said Jessica Greenhalf, Director of Restless Development Uganda.