Inclusive development for social integration : a capability approach to youth-oriented Active Labour Market Policies (ALMPs)

  • Paul Ogwang TULIBALEKA

Student thesis: PhD Thesis (Lingnan)


Sub-Saharan Africa is currently experiencing a youth bulge that is expected to continue growing for a few decades. Uganda, one of the countries with the highest youth population uses an approach that emphasises education and skills development (human capital approach) alongside promoting self-employment and youth entrepreneurship in response to the labour market and employment challenges experienced by the youth. In Uganda, vocational education and training (VET), youth entrepreneurship funds, job search assistance and career guidance address unemployment and the lack of required labour market skills. However, this approach emphasises education and skills, yet the youth are treated as a homogenous cohort; hence, the risk of exclusion of some of the youth arises. The capability approach (CA) to the youth-oriented active labour market policies (ALMPs) is broader and holistic as it considers unobserved heterogeneity, capabilities and the functionings of the youth. Therefore, this study attempted to use and apply the CA to youth-oriented active labour markets for inclusive policy design and social integration. The core argument of the study is that social policy is a means to inclusive development and social integration. Through the qualitative research method, data were collected using focus group discussions and follow-up semi-structured interviews with the youth in Arua city/district in Uganda. The youth were subdivided into eight subgroups which include youth in non-standard formal employment, self-employed youth, youth in rural employment, online workers, youth in general education, youth in vocational education and training (VET), NEET (not in employment, education, or training) and Refugee youth. A total of 8 participants participated in each of the eight (08) focus groups; follow-up individual interviews consisted of 2 participants from each of the subgroups.

Research findings reveal that the high level of informality of the economy and the labour market shape the nature of labour market transitions, self-employment, work precarity and NEET. Youth entrepreneurship, the promotion of self-employment, VET, job search assistance and career guidance hardly consider the youth diversity and their voices/choices. Homogeneity, specialisation and aligning of the youth aspirations (voices/choices) with the labour market requirements are essential in expanding the functionings and capabilities of the youth for inclusive policy design and social integration. The study makes both theoretical and policy contributions. Theoretical contributions include the demonstration of how the CA can be applied to ALMPs in a highly informal labour market, proposing a framework for the application of the CA to youth labour market transition, the expansion of the active NEETs, and the notion that self-employment is a buffer against being NEETs and work instability. The policy contributions include expanding the refugee right to work policy, a call to establish labour market re-integration policies etc. Finally, the study concludes that the CA is practical and applicable in the formulation of inclusive labour market policies and understanding concepts like NEET, work precarity, self-employment and informality in the context of a developing country like Uganda.
Date of Award8 Aug 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Lingnan University
SupervisorStefan KÜHNER (Supervisor) & Tat Chor AU YEUNG (Co-supervisor)

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