Overview:

The nature of how people work, where they work and how their contracts are structured have all changed.

When youths gathered for three days at this year’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Career Expo organised in partnership with The Innovation Village in Kampala last year, three words were on everyone’s mind; Explore. Engage. Experience.  

Explore the emerging trends in the current and future job market. 

Engage with top industry game-changers and influencers. 

Experience by providing a platform to interact and influence life-changing decisions in the career and business world.  

The expo-themed “The Future of Work” offered youthful students practical knowledge needed to utilise available paths and resources to build solid careers once in the workplace.

For many, this was a time to reflect on what careers to pursue after all the library visits, coursework deadlines and examination periods.  

Joan Babirye, a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Networking and Cyber Security at ISBAT University, says she is unsure of her career journey. 

“I have not yet found out what my career path ought to be. I am studying networking and cyber security, but I am not sure of what I should specialize in. If you look at that being Information Technology and the gigs I do outside school, the two are completely different,” Babirye narrates her dilemma at the career expo.  

Her situation is quite understandable given that trends within the job market have taken a twist over the years. The nature of how people work, where they work and how their contracts are structured have all changed.  

In their Future of Work: A journey to 2022 report, professional services firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, states: “Disruptive innovations are creating new industries and business models and destroying old ones. New technologies, data analytics and social networks are having a huge impact on how people communicate, collaborate and work.

As generations collide, workforces become more diverse, and people work longer; traditional career models may soon be a thing of the past. Many of the roles and job titles of tomorrow will be ones we’ve not even thought of yet.” 

Uganda churns out over 700,000 graduates every year but as per the National Planning Authority, only 90,000 find work. Past experiences indicate the country’s labour market grapples with a mismatch between demand and supply of human labour. The majority of graduates lack the requisite skills and knowledge required by employers.  

So, with predictions on what the future of work could look like and the nature of Uganda’s labor market, how can youths like Babirye decide on a career path?

Mumba Kalifunguwa, Managing Director Absa Bank Uganda, said: “You need to look at the Future of Work not only as employees but as employers and entrepreneurs. For so long as you are trying to solve something, that is a business.”

“You need to understand the business, marketplace, customers and the processes to run it. Look at the opportunities and risks that exist within the business as well as upskill where you need work, money, people, enterprise, and tech skills. Adapt and innovate with changing times. Learn and unlearn.

Every business runs on numbers from sales, revenue, and profit so you need to build your financial acumen. Think partnerships, scale, and collaborations with people to meet customer needs. You cannot sell a business you do not understand so when you approach investors, meet the right people, know the investor and their interests, talk about your service, skills or products, and look presentable while at it.”

Japheth Kawanguzi, Team Lead at The Innovation Village, said: “Technology and entrepreneurship are industries that are driving the world. A small country like Israel gets more venture capital in a month than Africa in an entire year. Last year, Africa hit about $5billion in funding and we saw a big percentage of this go to Nairobi, Lagos, and Cape Town and we question why Uganda is the most entrepreneurial country in the world but does not get its ideas funded.

Why aren’t our entrepreneurs competitive enough? Having ideas is not enough. It is one percent of what you need, and the execution is 99 percent. Building your idea to heights can take more than 3 years and you must be patient. You need to make sure your idea can translate into a viable business.

You need capital and not necessarily from the bank but capital that caters to the needs of the business stage. Money has many faces from grant, debt among others. The best capital is the one from your customers and they validate what you are doing in the market. Focus on the value and the customer you are creating it for to achieve growth.” 

“With COVID-19 here, what we see is that the strategy for entrepreneurs is to adopt hybrid working styles. Technology is enabling the distribution of products and services for entrepreneurs. Young people have a competitive advantage because they are tech-savvy, and this can help you build your brand. Communication, advertising, and research are key in business and technology has made these aspects easier. There is need to drive more adoption of innovation and increase the pursuit of digital-related skills because as employers, we are looking for futuristic skills such as artificial intelligence, social marketing, and fintech, so I encourage youths to re-invent themselves to survive in this competitive job market.  

Micheal Sekadde, General Manager Human Resources MTN Uganda

Richard Byarugaba, Managing Director, NSSF said: “In the job market, there are new winners and losers. There are new trends, new businesses created, new jobs and new investment opportunities. Students need to pay attention to history and changes. The biggest lesson is that disruption is the new normal. No one is guaranteed a safe passage, but you can adapt to these times.

You choose a growth mindset and allow your intelligence to evolve. Firms will hire you not because you have a first-class degree, but you have very good skills at the job. Companies are hungry for those who embrace challenges, persist, focus on effort, learn from criticism and find lessons in the success of others. Start to think and act like an entrepreneur.” 

Micheal Sekadde, General Manager Human Resources MTN Uganda, said: “Technology has changed the life of many entrepreneurs. In the digital era, entrepreneurs will make money through digital platforms. You can work from anywhere to transact in business and this change towards business operations and remote work is driving efficiency.”

“With COVID-19 here, what we see is that the strategy for entrepreneurs is to adopt hybrid working styles. Technology is enabling the distribution of products and services for entrepreneurs. Young people have a competitive advantage because they are tech-savvy, and this can help you build your brand. Communication, advertising, and research are key in business and technology has made these aspects easier. There is need to drive more adoption of innovation and increase the pursuit of digital-related skills because as employers, we are looking for futuristic skills such as artificial intelligence, social marketing, and fintech, so I encourage youths to re-invent themselves to survive in this competitive job market.  

With a lot of talent left unutilized and more emerging, youths who position themselves to meet the current demands of the workplace will thrive. The Innovation Village believes that entrepreneurship is a catalyst for job creation and that Ugandans can use technology in their quest to solve problems. The ecosystem builder continues to collaborate with other stakeholders to enable youths to find decent work and drive the country’s economic growth.”

Samson Bruno Were, an entrepreneur, is part of The Innovation Village ecosystem and for the most part, the conversation about the future of work is forever a reminder of where youths need to focus their energy as they find their footing in a new world of work. 

“At the NSSF expo, I learnt that money comes to people who create value for it. As entrepreneurs, we think we need capital to start which is a poor mindset. It’s important to change your own mindset so that you can influence those around you. I learnt that I need to reconcile my purpose with my passion to get the energy to move on. We build but sometimes want to give up and need people to push you ahead. It is important to listen to people who have gone through the process,” Were concludes.