About LEAP Programme


Despite students increasingly achieving top grades, many are struggling to secure employment after leaving college or university due to a lack of experience in the workplace. With the high focus on achieving top grades at school and college, and the lack of emphasis on soft skills and career advice, students are left ‘hopelessly unprepared’ for the world of work[1].

 Young people under the age of 30 account for more than 60% of East Africa’s population. Uganda in particular has almost 75% of its population under age 30. A 2014 study by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) across five East African Community countries showed that Uganda fared worst, with at least 63% of graduates lacking job market skills. This same study reported that in Tanzania 61% of graduates were poorly prepared for the job market, while in Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, 55%, 52% and 51% of the graduates respectively were perceived to be incompetent/or unfit for jobs.

A quality education, and job competitiveness are key to securing good employment opportunities. While East African Universities provide a foundational academic grounding, studies have indicated a mismatch between school-acquired skills and the job market. Eseza Byakika of Coach Africa has previously said that Kenyan employees perform well at work compared to their Ugandan and Tanzanian counterparts attributing it to the gap in the curriculum at the university that does not prepare students for the employment world by including tips about personal development and work ethics. If university graduates acquire degrees and knowledge that have little practical application in Africa’s fast-changing labour force, then their investment of time will have been largely in vain.

Bridges et al (2013)[2] found that in Tanzania, the transition from school to work as well as between sectors of employment is difficult for young people. Many lack the means, skills, knowledge, or connections to translate their education into productive employment.


East Africa will increasingly become a target for multinational companies looking to escape the growing labour costs in Asia. The global interconnectedness also offers opportunities for young people to pursue opportunities outside of East Africa. However, without adequate preparation, soft skills, and tooling, these opportunities will remain out of the reach of most young East Africans.

 Apprenticeship and structured work experience as means to promote the school to work transition has grown over the last several decades to join the continued emphasis on school-based vocational programs for entry-level skills. Internships and apprenticeship have demonstrated impact on skills acquisition.[3] Therefore, access to soft skills training, fellowships, apprenticeships or internships is a great way to blend the early educational foundations. Additionally, future training in other settings or environments away from a home country, opens up opportunities for young people through additional skills acquisition, international exposure, and network building.

 Unfortunately, few East Africans win scholarships to get into educational institutions abroad, or to undertake fellowships or internships. There is a wide disparity in access to scholarships, fellowships and internships across East Africa, with difficulties accessing information, as well as low application and presentation skills likely explanations for these disparities. The table below shows access to different scholarships and fellowships by scholars around East Africa compared to other African countries.


 Scholarship and Fellowships







South Africa

Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (2007-2017)







German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) [Inception to 2016][4]







Gates Cambridge scholarship [2000-2017]







Rhodes scholarships[5]







Fulbright Scholar Program (2010-2017)[6]






















 The LEAP Programme

The purpose of the LEAP Programme is to help young people and professionals brand and position themselves in a competitive global environment. The Programme has two packages: a) Secure your Job; b) Win your Fellowship/Scholarship/Internship.

  1. Secure your Job: This package has three modules that could be taken together or separately – Writing a competitive CV/resume; interview skills; and job readiness.
  2. Win your Fellowship/Scholarship/Internship: This package has two modules that are standalone – win your scholarship; and, win a fellowship or internship.


 [1] The Online Resource Bank (https://www.theorb.org.uk/blog/81/why-soft-skills-are-crucial-for-the-employment-of-young-people)

[2] Bridges et al 2013. Labour Market Entry and Earnings: Evidence from Tanzania Retrospective Data

[3] The World Bank 2007. The Role of Youth Skills Development in the Transition to Work:  A Global Review

[4] https://www.daad.de/der-daad/zahlen-und-fakten/en/29263-daad-country-statistics/

[5] https://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/community/list-of-rhodes-scholars/

[6] https://www.cies.org/fulbright-scholars


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