Njuki Moments

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Taking advantage of new East African job opportunities

With the East African Common market taking shape, more job opportunities shall emerge. There are fewer restrictions to goods and services, meaning the growing regional block presents more jobs to choose from for people seeking employment.
The East African Common Market Protocol came into effect on July 1, creating a market for 130 million people and a combined gross domestic product of $75b. The market, allows free movement of services, capital, labour and goods.
The opportunities could present some getting prepared for, given that Ugandans are not exactly known for their hard work as a far as jobs go. A recent job study indicated that six Ugandans are required to do a job one Kenyan would do. But surely we must have superior advantages too.
As we prepare, if we haven’t already, you may need to put a polish to that Swahili, given that it is a language widely used in all other East African countries, except Uganda. It is never too late to try; go to language school.
There is even more good news; Sudan has applied to join the East African Community, and the newly independent South Sudan is expected to make its application soon. Some of these countries present rare opportunities as they require people with skills, which we have possessed here for a while.
So we stand some advantages. Take South Sudan, for example, whose economy is just taking shape, meaning that a more experienced Ugandan employee will most likely score better at the job interview than the indigenous Sudanese.
Already, teachers have been on high demand in Tanzania, due to our supposedly better command of the English language, the medium of instruction, just like Rwanda and Burundi who are switching from the colonial French, which has been their national language.
These opportunities, however, are not unique to Ugandans. They are open to the whole region and as recent trends indicate, there are more Kenyan employees here than Ugandans in Nairobi.
They tend to take work more seriously, something we are slowly getting used to, but they have also had a better economy, which presents growth opportunities in the job market as well as skills growth.
With the opening up of the union, this means that any one must prepare to compete, even at home, because your employer is likely to have a variety of prospects knocking at her door, even from across the border.
Therefore you had better be good, actually better than the whole lot, if you are to keep your job or enjoy the advantages of a bigger pool of employers.
A further polish on attitude could be another tool you need. When competition comes in, it is not just who is better and more qualified but who views work better and is likely to work easier with others. Employers are looking out for those who can give the best contribution to their companies, and attitude is key here.
That said, we are all differently gifted. So do a thorough self assessment of your skills and competences, get a passport ready, get knowledge about the region, and start preparing your resume on how to compete in a wider market place. Go back to school, if you need to.
What is sure for now is that these opportunities, as usual will only favor the prepared.
Do what you have to do to get ready to compete.

This article first appeared in The Daily Monitor newspaper Friday, October 21 2011 at http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/Jobs+++Career/-/689848/1258850/-/11es6g7/-/index.html

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