Future of decent work relies on youth empowerment

The youth are leaders of today, time is here and now. The disruptive world has caught up with us and is here to stay. Statistics from ILO show that globally, over 63 million young men and women are looking for jobs, about 141 million youth are working yet living in poverty, two in every five youth are jobless and poor. Youth unemployment has been a budding crisis not only in Uganda but world over, in this regard discussions have been going on about the employment crisis in the country and government committed to invest in young people and safeguard their rights to ensure effective transition into decent work. However, there are still a number of factors that have hindered this transition. In November last year the Amalgamated Transport and General workers Union in collaboration with the National Organization of trade Unions (NOTU) organized the Global young workers camp held in Jinja Uganda that brought together over 200 young workers from different countries around the world under the theme who are we in the world of work.

The forum provided valuable insights for the future of ILO action on youth employment.
• Focus more on the demand side of labour markets and to harness the employment potential in emerging sectors.
• Establish economic systems that cater for climate change and migration that are fundamental to youth.
• Accelerate processes to tackle educational reforms that will address skills mismatch with the growing trends of emphasis on digital and soft skills, the skilling Uganda program.
• Review labour market regulations of gender balance, informality, remuneration structures, working conditions, access to training, etc.
• Establish long-term, sustainable and quality employment solutions.
• Broaden social dialogue and youth engagement to underpin policy-making. There is also a need to strengthen multi-stakeholder action and co-ordination for scaling up action and impact.
From the above recommendations, it is clear that structural transformation needs to be given key consideration. Young workers should embrace the government centered approach to the future of work that Strengthen the capacities of all people to benefit from the opportunities of a changing world of work, government is strengthening the institutions of work and promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth to support productive employment and decent work for all. As the youth, your place in this is to be informed and proactive. We must know our rights as workers or young business owners, and actively participate in policy discussions on employment and labour matters. The future of work offers vast opportunities but also significant challenges. Globalization, technological advancement and demographic change are already having profound impact on society. The irony is that the future of work is actually here, we see the gig economy taking substantial shape, positions in organizations are more fluid with freelance contracts, modern technology has also paved way for decentralized workforce where flexi-hours and remote working have become common, motivation at work now goes beyond a paycheck to more incentivized options, and artificial intelligence is set to replace humans at work.
We, therefore, have to be prepared as youth by being creative, passionate and multi-skilled as we are a huge part of this transformation. Learning is a never-ending journey. We cannot afford to be left behind. Our future is in our hands, and ultimately, we fashion our own destiny. We all have the opportunity to explore various fields of work and shape our career paths, which is all preceded by an open mind. With increased empowerment programs, young workers are safe and protected from discrimination, exploitation and human rights violence at their work place. As trade unions we hope to see continued significant progress at national level in light of decent work and social justice■