On 6 March 2014, two bright-eyed students sat at the information desk at the Uganda Manufacturer’s Association conference hall in Kampala , welcoming guests a one-day workshop on writing CVs and Job Interview Skills. Young people from different walks of life attended the workshop, which was organised by Let Them Help Themselves Out of Poverty.
Let Them Help Themselves Out of Poverty is a community regeneration charity that aims to undertake community development through education, health and the improvement of communities in the developing world. The workshop was a prelude to the organisation’s activities to mark the International Women’s Day in Uganda on March 8.
Some of the participants, such as Mary, came hoping to get a job. The reality though was a workshop to prepare participants to get access to jobs through the acquisition of practical skills and knowledge about Curriculum Vitae (CV) and job interviews. Although she did not get any leads she was happy that she gained skills to help her improve her CV. The soft-spoken former hairdresser plans to use her revamped CV to get a job as a teacher.
Similarly, Allen, will rewrite her CV. She is confident that she will write a compelling CV with the tips she received from the facilitator of the session, Rose Izizinga. Besides merely rewriting the CV she discovered the importance of the CV. “I learnt that I should not take my CV for granted,” she exclaimed. “I must always have a copy on me especially when I am job hunting.” The expressive young lady is already practising some of what the Nile Breweries HR manager, Samalie Namirembe, told the workshop participants. She has volunteered at the Red Cross Society and is currently volunteering with a youth NGO, YAFU, to gain some work experience.
Getting practical skills was one of the objectives of the workshop. According to the workshop organizer, Ida Horner, she prefers a more practical approach especially when dealing with young people. “I don’t like running events that become talking shops. I want participants to come, attend and take some practical skill,” she said.
Deo, a young man working at a supermarket in downtown Kampala, found the workshop somewhat useful. Like Mary, he heard the radio advert and assumed the meeting would result into a new job as he is looking for greener pastures. Once at the venue he quickly established this was not the case but he stayed because he needed knowledge about CV writing. “To write a good CV you must ensure it includes positive attributes and that it clarifies what you have done not what you want to do,” he elucidated.
The workshop explored the challenges women face in employing women, the challenges that young women face accessing jobs and the contributions to job creation in the future. The morning sessions were more practical while the afternoon sessions involved a lot more talking by business executives discussing their contribution to job creation in Uganda and what can be done to ensure women get access to good quality jobs.
The participants were challenged to prove they could do what they say they can, to be confident and full of integrity if they hope to get and maintain a job. Based on a brief observation of and interaction with the youthful participants through most of the day it was obvious that there is still a lot more that the youth have to do. For starters, they need to make time management a priority. The workshop that was slated to begin at 8am began two hours later. By 10am not even half the expected number had turned up. The reasons for the late coming varied from the distances people had to cover to get to the venue to the traffic they encountered. One participant said with a straight face that is how Ugandans are; they are always late! And the rest of the group nodded in agreement. Considering the event attracted no charge, the hall should have been full and the event should have started on time. However, with an attitude like that, it is no surprise that it was not.
The interactive, practical sessions displayed a glaring need for some form of training in public speaking for most participants. They had to be reminded to project their voices for all to hear their contributions. They lacked confidence and hardly made eye contact with the people they were talking to. Hopefully the workshop was the beginning of a turn around for them. Certainly it is hoped that this was a lesson in how not to behave at a workshop for the students who manned the welcome desk and ushered participants to their seats.
These negative attributes were dealt with in the afternoon session where the women business owners discussed their contribution to the creation of jobs in Uganda as well as what can be done to ensure women access good quality jobs. This is in line with the focus of this year’s International Women’s Day, which is the availability of jobs for African women as well as the ability of African women in business to create jobs for others. The participants were urged to get training, cultivate and project confidence, plan their careers, market themselves and know their talent. With all this, they are more likely to succeed in whatever they do.
By Laura Walusimbi