Vocational training fast becoming a necessity

A student learning how to repair a car at Nakawa Vocational Institute in Kampala. Photos by Gillian Nantume

What you need to know:

It is increasingly becoming important for every graduate to gain a skill to make them innovative, versatile job creators thus changing the face of vocational training, writes Gillian Nantume.

Every day, employers struggle with a shortage of skilled manpower. The graduates roaming the streets are many, but those with experience in their professions are few. And with increase in the number of factories and organisations opening up, there is need for a skilled workforce.

Shillingi Mwesigye, the principal Lugogo Vocational Training Institute (LVTI), says because of the giant strides of vocational training, factories no longer need apprentices. “Traditionally, every factory had its own apprentices, who could learn on the job. The factory would eventually pay for the apprentices to return to school. But the practice is dying out because vocational institutions are churning out skilled and qualified artisans. If factories get such workers, why would they still hire apprentices?”

Currently, people with technical skills who can work on practical jobs are few. If you advertise a job slot of 15 people with technical skills, chances are that after screening, you will only get 10.

“It has been a slow process, but now people are beginning to see the benefit of vocational training,” Mwesigye says, continuing, “At LVTI, university graduates leave their offices and come for evening classes. This is because the workplace requirements have changed, to favour those who have incorporated non-formal training in their education.”

It is no longer a shame for university graduates to apply to study technical courses at vocational institutions. As a transport officer, one needs basic knowledge about how a car operates or the names of the different car parts. In the same vein, an estates manager needs some basic knowledge about carpentry, plumbing and electrical installation, if they are to effectively supervise their subordinates.

University graduates, with a higher reasoning, attending a certificate class in electrical installation, will obviously add value to the training they get. “If he opens a workshop, his work will be far better than the work of someone who came straight from Senior Four to the technical class,” Mwesigye says.

Non-formal training
Much as those who apply to study in vocational institutions have some form of education as foundation, there are professional artisans who have never been to school.

“Through the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT), the Ministry of Education and Sports found that a disservice had been done to the artisans in Katwe. They are good mechanics who know their job well, but they have never been to school. The DIT decided to assist them to compete in the field on the same footing as those who have been to school, because in any competition you need a certificate. So the DIT offers them a pass certificate which can be used in the East African region.”

Non-formal training is non-discriminatory. With the government initiative to boost vocational training, it is believed that the problem of unemployment can be reduced.