Ashraf Kimbugwe, a student at Uganda Petroleum Institute is eager to finish his studies and hopes to work in the country’s oil and gas sector.
Kimbugwe is among the thousands of Ugandan youths that the government, in partnership with the private sector, is training to get ready for the job market that requires a skilled labor force.
As the World Youth Skills Day falls on Sunday, Uganda says it is prioritizing the training of youths who constitute over 75 percent of the country’s population.
Matia Kasaija, minister of finance, planning and economic development, said recently that the government has built and equipped several vocational and technical institutes.
Kasaija said that over the next year, more than six technical colleges in the country will churn out technicians who are “internationally certified”. This means that they can work in any part of the world.
He said over the past year, 14,620 youths who do not have formal training have been equipped with skills in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality.
In January this year, the government launched the construction of the China-aided Industrial Skills Training and Production Center.
The government views the 30 million-U.S. dollar center as a critical pillar in addressing the country’s lack of skilled manpower and technology it requires to fast track their industrialization process.
The government says its greatest need for skilled personnel will be when the country starts the commercial production of oil. Production of the country’s over 1.6 billion barrels of oil is expected to start by 2023, according to government projections.
According to the ministry of energy and mineral resources, over 161,000 jobs would be created in the sector as the construction of the refinery and crude oil pipeline starts.
Various private institutions have opened up their gates to train the youths who want to work in the sector. Sunmaker Oil and Gas Training Institute, set up by a Chinese company, has planned to train over 4,000 Ugandan youths annually.
Speaking at the institute on July 12, Janet Museveni, minister of education and sports said the government recognizes the critical role played by the private sector to enhance human resource development.
“We are pleased to have friends who can partner with us to help us achieve the middle-income status,” Janet Museveni said.
“Those with competencies in oil and gas are still limited despite having several institutes in the country. There are also insufficient number of skilled welders for the sector. There is a need for equitable access to relevant training services such as this one at Sunmaker institute,” she said.