A cross section of government agencies, labour unions and players in the private sector have lauded the move by the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development to roll out an apprenticeship program aimed at intensifying skills training.
The Ministry on Thursday presented a draft framework of the apprenticeship scheme which seeks to address the skilling gaps in the labor market as well as solve the rising levels of unemployment.
The consultative meeting held at Imperial Royale Hotel was attended by Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, academics, representatives from the private sector as well as development partners.
By design, the program will give an opportunity to young people either formally educated or not to get on job training while getting reasonable pay.
Hon. Janat Mukwaya, the Minister of Gender, Labor and Social Development said that this new program will be essential in addressing the challenges that emerge from the fast changing trends in the field of work especially as a result of technology, innovations and markets.
“The National Labor Force survey 2012 reported that majority of youth (47%) had primary education, 35% had secondary education and 10% had none at all. Only 1.9% had post primary specialized training, 2.9% had specialized secondary training and 1.3% had a Degree,” Minister Mukwaya said.
“95% of all the youth were in informal employment. This is why we should push for this program,” she added.
She said that this is worsened by the high mismatch of graduate skills which leaves them unemployed and creates pressure to absorb the new existing stock of graduates.
“This apprenticeship program will develop the skills of the workforce. Uganda’s develop will depend on the number of people employed and their productivity.”
In her message, the Minister of Education Janet Museveni said; “I applaud the Ministry of Labour for drafting the framework which is critical for the designing and implementation of industry specific programs.”
“Work based learning is recognized as one of the determining success factors influence the school work transition for young people and upskilling of those working.”
The Education Minister hinted on the need for the current technical and vocational training in Uganda to be enhanced with initiatives like the apprenticeship scheme to build the competencies dynamics to meet the growing labor market needs.
In commending the Ministry for the program, the Chairman of the Nationa Planning Authority, Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa said the program was welcome but requested that regulations should also cater for those working in the informal sector especially on the aspect of wages.
Usher Owere who heads the national trade union also lauded the initiative saying that it is a step in the right direction especially for the progress of the country.
He said that with the employment opportunities that lie in Uganda’s tourism sector, apprenticeship will go a long way in boosting economic development.
The representative of the Federation of Uganda Employers on her part said the apprenticeship program is addressing s key problem at a time when any of the graduates enter the market with more theory than practical skills.
Doreen Katusiime, the Permanet Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities said; “As a sector, we are very excited that there is this effort. It is possible for Uganda to position ourselves in Africa bti we can’t do his without skills.”
“We have been discussing apprenticeship but there was a dilemma. The companies which which we would Kobe to partner with for imparting skills are private entities and are business oriented,” she added.
Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development will now evaluate the input from Thursday’s consultations to then enrich its Cabinet paper which when approved will then lead to implementation of the program.