Job Placement Programme

Student Job Placement Updates

by Belinda Von Aesch on 06/08/2018 No comments

The Job Placement Programme (JPP) was launched in January 2017 and places Fontes Youth Centre graduates with businesses who are looking for trained local talent trained. As the Catering Course curriculum includes an industrial attachment, the students are being placed with restaurants and hotels around Kampala to complete their training. Two of the placed students are Christine Mukonda and Sam Mugisha. They have been placed at Pachino’s restaurant where the manager was so pleased with their performance that he hired both of them just one week into their internship. Together Christine and Sam have developed a new menu for the restaurant including the new very popular ‘Three Little Pigs Burger’.

The JPP Coordinator Gary Agaba checking on the students at their placement

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Belinda Von AeschStudent Job Placement Updates

Navigating the Private Sector – Why A Job Placement Programme for Youth Is Necessary

by Hellen Griberg on 04/12/2017 No comments

In recent years, the entrepreneurial spirit in Uganda has gained international attention and led to their title as the most entrepreneurial country in the world as 28 % of the adult population own or co-own a business (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 2015). The streets of the Kampala beautifully capture this spirit, as you often see endless vendors on either side of the road or the small boutiques popping up on every corner. Indeed, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) account for 90 % of the private sector (Deloitte, 2016), and with the right kind of assistance, it is this group that can meet the growing employment challenge among youth in Uganda. Fontes Foundation Uganda (FFU) has been working the past year tirelessly to bridge this gap between MSMEs and youth through our Job Placement Programme (JPP).

Most of the businesses remain small or informal because they want to avoid taxes and registration costs but this poses severe challenges for employment. There is a significant chance of underemployment and poor work conditions. Employers are not required to adhere to employment policies, which means they can take advantage of youth who desperately need work experience. Since the informal sector accounts for 58 % of the non-agricultural employment in Uganda (Skilling Uganda 2011-2020, Ministry of Education), this problem is more prevalent than most people care to admit. To tackle this issue, JPP has been doing a thorough evaluation of potential employers, and we ask them to sign a written agreement that includes terms of employment. Employers agree to this because the contract also stipulates that we will do an onboarding process and continuous follow-up with our graduates through their three-month job placement. This is a win-win situation for both the employer and employee.

Moreover, small and informal businesses struggle with recruitment because of scarce resources. Limited online presence means that they rely on word-of-mouth. This is equally challenging for potential employees, as they need to be much more proactive in their efforts to find employment. Our JPP addresses this, as our Job Placement Coordinator travel from business to business for possible vacancies. To overcome this obstacle requires a considerable amount of time and work, but it also changes how we talk about job searching to our students. We emphasise negotiation and communication skills, so when the time comes to do the grunt work on their own, they will know how to approach and leave a lasting impression on potential employers. In our experience, it is these soft or transferable skills that determine whether or not students acquire employment in the first place. Before students enter our core course, the idea of being assertive or even mustering up the confidence to speak to an authority figure was unimaginable, and since so much of job searching requires just that, the likelihood of remaining unemployed was very high.

Furthermore, limited resources also mean that MSMEs struggle with finding the right kind of people, which ultimately leads to high staff turnover.  Through our JPP, we evaluate students’ interests and match that with potential employment opportunities. This process allows us to establish what various businesses need, and how our graduates can add-value and contribute to their strategies. For instance, one of our former students, Jimmy Galabuzi, wanted to work for a coffee shop, so he could acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to start his own coffee business in the future. ‘Coffee At Last’ needed someone with social media skills to help them increase their online presence. Jimmy was able to assist them with that, and this coupled with his excellent customer service skills ultimately lead to his full-time employment. Coffee At Last was so pleased with our JPP process and how we matched their needs with Jimmy’s skills that they asked us to send more students from our Youth Centre.

Barbara Nakiyingi training to become a waitress at the Golden Tulip.

Finally, our biggest challenge is perhaps working with more established companies mainly because they fixate on our students’ educational background. FFU works mostly with high school dropouts, and their lack of diploma curb their chances of employment. Nonetheless, the hospitality and service sector offers excellent opportunities. In general, this industry struggles with finding employees who know how to use their customer service skills and creativity to handle various situations. Since our Personal Development course focuses on entrepreneurship, problem-solving and interpersonal skills, our students can discern the needs of the customers, and find a solution. Barbara Nakiyingi is perhaps a great example. She graduated from the Youth Centre earlier this summer and got a job as a waitress at the Golden Tulip, a high-end hotel in Kampala. Barbara excelled during the hotel’s pre-training mostly because of her creativity and problem-solving skills, something she mastered in her market research preparation for her business plan at the Youth Centre. This experience will be invaluable when she decides to fulfil her dream of opening her restaurant. In the meantime, Barbara can celebrate her sixth month of employment at the Golden Tulip!

These are just some of the lessons we have learned since the inception of the JPP earlier this year. So far, we have successfully placed 13 students, and 85 % of them have full-time employment now. By finally incorporating JPP, we have now embraced a holistic approach that not only trains youth but also tries to bridge the gap between them and MSMEs. This self-assigned role of mediator has given us exceptional insight that allows us to improve our courses to meet needs of the market but also challenge employers on their attitudes of the Kampala youth.


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Hellen GribergNavigating the Private Sector – Why A Job Placement Programme for Youth Is Necessary

Following up with our most recent Job Placement Programme (JPP) students

by Rebecca Grattage on 03/10/2017 No comments

Fontes Foundation aims to support graduates of the Fontes Youth Development Centre in starting their professional careers. We therefore partner with companies across different sectors that are willing to work with Kampala’s youth.The Job Placement Programme (JPP) helps graduates conduct internships at one of our partner companies for three months, where they apply their newly developed skills in a practical setting. After the internships, students will either be taken on full time by their current employers, find a new position or use their expertise to start their own micro-startups.

In order to insure that the JPP functions smoothly, we stay in touch with both employers and employees during and after the internship to assist in the successful implementation of the agreement. Last week, we went to visit Joan Nasaali and Sharon Kemirembe, who both graduated from Fontes Youth Development Centre (FYC) in June 2017 and both recently started working as waitresses at Vika Restaurant in Kampala. They both explained how they are already applying the skills they honed at FYC – especially public speaking skills and improved personal confidence, which they say help them as waitresses.

Joan and Sharon at their new workplace

For Sharon, this internship is perfectly in line with her future dreams: to set up her own restaurant. She hopes that the skills she gains during her time as a waitress, in addition to the business skills she acquired during her time at FYC, will help her in progressing to achieve her goal. Joan also plans on setting up her own business, but her passion is in tailoring and fashion, so after gaining work experience using the Fontes JPP, she plans to set up her own business.

Joan and Sharon showing off their new work uniforms.

Fontes Foundation will continue to follow up with the FYC graduates and their employers to make sure that everyone is happy with the programme. Fontes Foundation typically follows up with students for at least 2 years with continuous mentorship and guidance. Further support is offered by the Alumni Organisation through networking opportunities and business development services.

Vika Restaurant, Ggaba Road, Kampala

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Rebecca GrattageFollowing up with our most recent Job Placement Programme (JPP) students

Project Management Internship at Fontes Foundation

by fontes on 13/07/2017 No comments

My experience at Fontes Foundation in Uganda has been very enriching. Finding your way in a country and working environment that is so different to anything you know is challenging, yet highly rewarding. Fontes Foundation is currently in the process of formalizing efforts and strengthening the entrepreneurial focus in its Youth Development projects. I was fortunate enough to join the organization in such dynamic and exciting times, having the chance to actively engage myself in various ventures.

My first personal highlight was the co-organisation of the first ever Fontes Foundation Career Day. It was deeply satisfying to see – after initial difficulties – how sharply dressed students presented their startup ideas, around sixteen companies decorated their booths with banners, flyers and brochures to attract possible employees and our partners Jumia Jobs, DFCU Bank and People Performance Group  gave inspiring keynote speeches.

Today, I am delighted to be preparing myself to go on my first field trip to Western Uganda. After having done much research on safe water treatment and its impact and written various funding proposals, I am looking forward to visiting the villages we have set up safe water treatment plants in and experiencing our influence first hand. I am especially thrilled to visit the village of Katunguru, which is located within Queen Elizabeth National Park.

After this last adventure, my days at Fontes will soon come to an end. I happily look back on an insightful time. Not only did I get the chance to gather work experience in various processes of an NGO. I met many development professionals, be it government officials, development consultants, or EU and UN delegates, and learned about their career paths. This gave me a holistic understanding of the development sector and I discovered many opportunities for my professional future and how to grasp them.

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fontesProject Management Internship at Fontes Foundation

Fontes Career Day

by fontes on 23/06/2017 No comments

In the framework of our current process to strengthen the support for our students at Potentiam Youth Development Centre after graduation, we organized the first ever Career Day at Fontes Foundation.  The main objective was to bridge the existing gap between Kampala’s youth and thriving employers. We sought to increase our students’ professional opportunities by giving them insights into different career paths, allowing some to present their business plans in front of an audience of entrepreneurs, and most importantly provide a platform for them to network with different employers, mentors and former PYC students.

One day prior to the event, we held a capacity building on networking at our Youth Centre for students who had signed up for the Career Day. The session focused on three main aspects of networking, namely preparation, connecting and follow-ups. Regarding the first point, we emphasized the importance of sound preparation for such an event. We introduced the different company profiles and talked about possible career chances in the given sectors. Furthermore, we had the students compile a diagram of their strengths and weaknesses, and interests. The aim of this exercise was to nudge the students’ reflection upon their merits and interests, and how they could best combine them to bring value to a company and build their careers. To learn how to best connect with a possible employer during the Career Day, we primarily discussed verbal and non-verbal communication. The students then came up with elevator pitches and presented them in small role plays in front of the crowd to practice networking with the Human Resource Managers. At last, we only briefly outlined how to follow up with leads.

Job Placement Coordinator Gary Agaba elaborating on networking

The Career Day was on Friday, 2nd of June. We were happy to count more than a hundred participants.  Next to the representatives of sixteen employers from various sectors, many of our current and former students, our Football- and Drama team, as well as students from other youth groups of Kampala joined. Being well prepared for the event, the youth eagerly engaged in conversations with the employers.

Next to the employer fair, a core element of the career day consisted in a workshop session. Robert Asiimwe from People Performance Group started with an introductory speech on CV writing and how to present oneself in a job interview. Peter Kisadha from Jumia Jobs then took over and elaborated on online job portals and how to advert and look for job opportunities online. The last part of the workshops was by the team of DFCU bank. In relation to our entrepreneurial programme, they focused their speech on micro savings and financial management.

After a second round of networking, the event ended with the presentations of our business plan competition winners. Joanita and Barbara explained how they had successfully launched a small groundnut selling business. Starting with very restricted funds of 9’700 UGX (2.7 USD), they managed to earn 54’000 UGX (15 USD) in their first month. Thereafter, Moses introduced his business plan for a mobile quality fruit business, as he calls it. We are happy to look back on a successful event with plenty of new friends of Fontes Foundation.

Business Plan Competition Winner Moses Sebbi introducing his project

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fontesFontes Career Day

Formalizing Efforts in Order to Seize Employment Opportunities

by fontes on 23/06/2017 No comments

Ever since the start of Potentiam Youth Development Centre (PYC), we focused not only on providing the students with marketable skills and personal development, but also relied on thorough follow-ups combined with mentorship, to make sure our graduates find their way after graduation. The encompassing support at times even included connecting our students with employers to ensure a smooth transition to their professional lives.

Gloria Twebaza at Savannah Resort Hotel

One student we were able to help get employment was Gloria Twebaze, a very charismatic young woman, who grew up in a small town in Western Uganda. She has been a member of Fontes’ scholarship programme since 2011. Being the 6th child of a family working in fishing and farming, Gloria was enabled to complete her high school supported by one of our donors. Her outstanding grades and discipline allowed Gloria to be admitted to YMCA in Kampala to get a certificate in Computer Science at in 2014 to end of 2015. Thereafter, Gloria completed the core course at Potentiam Youth Development Centre, whereupon she was employed as a receptionist at Savannah Resort Hotel in Kanungu district. Gloria is doing an excellent job. Not only has she been nominated employee of the month, she has also recently won a CV competition, outperforming several coworkers with a university degree. We are proud of how far Gloria has come, especially since she showcases the successful combination of our Scholarship Programme in Western Uganda with our Youth Development Programme in Kampala.

Stories like Gloria’s made us realize the high potential in connecting students to employers, bridging an apparent gap on the job market and strengthening our efforts to tackle the extraordinarily high youth unemployment rate of Uganda. We therefore came up with a more formalized approach and rolled out the Job Placement Programme in the beginning of this year.

Following a pilot round of the Job Placement Programme in this spring, we are delighted to start the first official round this June at the end of the current core course. Our preliminary target had been to place 50% of our current students at partnering companies. However, due to the rapid formation of new partnerships together with the success of old placements, it looks like we will be overshooting this target.

PYC alumni Jimmy Galabuzi was very eager to participate when he heard about the roll-out of our Job Placement Programme. We were able to connect him with at Coffee at Last this spring for an internship of three months. The position suits him well. He can not only make use of his previously attained catering certificate, but also of his computer and business skills, helping out at stock management.

Our Job Placement Coordinator, Gary Agaba, is constantly checking on both the employer and the employee to make sure everyone is satisfied. And indeed, Jimmy’s supervisor was so pleased with his work that his chances of getting employed by the end of the internship are really high. Furthermore, Coffe at Last is willing to continuously partner with Fontes Foundation and even take on another student from the core course ending this June. We are delighted to start building partnerships like these in order to help our students launch their professional careers.

Mahad Fahad was one of the first interns placed through our Job Placement Programme. He was recently promoted to Senior Driver at Premier Security System Ltd.

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fontesFormalizing Efforts in Order to Seize Employment Opportunities

Job Placement Programme – Student interviews

by fontes on 18/04/2017 No comments

Last week, it was time to introduce the current core course students at the Potentiam Youth Development Centre to the newly implemented Job Placement Programme. To start off, Gary Agaba, the Youth Centre’s Personal Development Facilitator, gave an introductory speech about the idea behind the initiative, the requirements to participate and the expected outcomes. Thereafter, the Fontes team held individual interviews with the participants.

This approach supports our vision in two ways. First, it allows us to understand the personal strengths and goals of each of the students, facilitating the search for suitable employers and partners. Furthermore, the interviews are part of an encompassing monitoring system.

By constantly evaluating the satisfaction and performance of placed students and their employers, we receive crucial insights for our customer relationship management and impact measurement systems. These findings will thus help us improve our curriculum and strengthen partnerships with employers.

Geofrey explaining his business idea

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fontesJob Placement Programme – Student interviews