Why do you focus so strongly on technical and vocational education and training?
Because for many of our partners there is a genuine need in this area and particularly pertaining to involving youths. Our role is also to make sure that youths get employed so they can contribute to their country’s economic development and become part of society. Right now, job prospects just happen to be much better for technical and vocational graduates.
That is why, in Uganda, for instance, we support the reform of technical and vocation education and training through the Skilling Uganda programme. The objective is to reform the existing competence development system and to evolve from education seeking diploma qualifications towards – sometimes short – vocational training courses targeting skills and focusing on job market opportunities. This new policy was defined in partnership with the private sector, among others. Currently, we support the implementation of the Skilling Uganda policy in the field through three projects, for the account of Ireland, the European Union and Belgium. For this we have also sourced expertise from Belgium such as the employment services VDAB, FOREM and – soon – ACTIRIS, as well as Syntra, an agency for entrepreneurial training, and BECI, the Brussels Chamber of Commerce.
Today, one of these projects focuses on training technicians to become skilled welders for the emerging oil sector. The oilfield concessions granted by the Government of Uganda to multinationals often include the obligation to hire local workers. In the past this did not always work out well because Ugandan technicians lacked the skills required by international companies. To prevent foreign investors from losing interest on such a basis, we now work with local actors to provide high-quality training and thus fulfil the recurring demand from businesses which have started working in Uganda. Such projects have a real impact in the field and have the potential to boost the Ugandan economy.