especially among young people, is very high in Uganda. The Ugandan Bureau of
Statistics estimates that 64% of the unemployed are between the age of 18 and
30 years. This is a huge challenge for
the Ugandan government especially given the rapid growth of the population.
One of the problems is that many youngsters do not have the skills employers are looking for. The Support to the Implementation of the Skilling Uganda Strategy intervention (SSU) tackles this challenge one step at a time. One of its objectives is to improve the quality of the Ugandan Business Technical Vocational Education and Training (BTVET).
As part of its support to its BTVET partner institutes, SSU organised a training week on 'management of training institutions' in Fort Portal. The training analysed issues that managers of training centres face in a regional East-African context and provided a platform for knowledge sharing amongst participants. Other projects supporting BTVET also partnered up and supported participants, including BTC-TTE, World Bank, Irish Aid, AVSI, JICA and WHH.
In total, over 50 managers of 16 different vocational training institutes participated. These 16 institutes are selected by the Ugandan government to serve as pilot centres of their ‘Skilling Uganda’ strategy. It is rare that all the primary stakeholders of so many different partner organisations are brought together in one learning event.
The training course on ‘Management of training institutions’ was organized by the International Training Centre (ITC) of the International Labour Organization (ILO). ITC usually holds its trainings at their global Training Campus in Turin (Italy), but offered to delocalize the training in Uganda to reach a maximum amount of participants.
In total 53 people participated in the different sessions, with the overall objective to inspire the management to improve the functioning of vocational training centres. For this reason participants were introduced to different innovative ways of dealing with everyday management challenges as well as global best practises in modern demand-driven skills development such as public-private partnerships, work-based learning schemes, career guidance, etc.
The participants worked in groups and tried to come up with strategies to achieve higher effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability for their own centre, aided by inspiring peer-to-peer examples. While a Namibian delegation explained how they created a change in skills development over the past decade by setting up a successful training-levy for the BTVET sector in their country, the Flemish Employment Service (VDAB) introduced best practices from a Flemish labour market context. Different Ugandan organisations also shared their best practises (Q-sourcing, UMI, UMA-HWK, DIT, etc.).
Looking for partnerships
According to ITC-ILO manager Alexis Hoyaux, trainings like this should reinforce stakeholders in the field: “Too often we tend to focus on the macro-level but real change can only come from the micro-level. We have to empower the people on the ground to take initiative and challenge the status-quo.”
Mr. Hoyaux also stressed the importance of public-private-partnerships: “Private initiatives are forced to innovate. If they don’t, they do not survive. Public institutions or too often directed with a very top-down mentality, independent thinking is not stimulated. I think public schools can really benefit from private sector experience and strongly believe in the necessity of public-private-partnerships.”
“If there is one thing I would like the participants of the training to take away from this experience it would be: take initiative! They should be active in seeking collaborations with the industry, they shouldn’t be afraid to come up with new ideas and they should inspire their staff and teachers to do the same.”