The Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) a body that unifies all manufacturers in the country, together with the Ministry of Education, on Friday August 21, concluded a five year project in which over 3000 graduates participated in the Higher Education Science and Technology (HEST) project.
Mr. Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Education and Sports, at the launch of the HEST Technical and Impact Assessment report, applauded UMA for the successful project and promised continuous government support to the initiative.
“For the past years few years, our education system has faced serious criticism for being far different from the ‘world of work’ but through collaborations with the employers, this trend is changing,” Kakooza said.
“The Ministry is pleased to ensure that such programs are sustained for betterment of academia and the economy at large,” he added.
Kakooza also noted that Government is committed to investing more in skill development as one of the means of curbing unemployment in the country.
Dr. Daniel Birungi, UMA Executive Director, applauded all stake holders and members for their tireless efforts towards ensuring the success of the program.
“We managed to surpass the target of 2000 students and we trained 5520 interns in soft ware and work based skills,” Birungi noted.
Birungi said that the interns, during their training period, acquired skills like report writing, communication, team work, problem solving as well as skills in the engineering and agricultural fields of study.
“The demand for skilled labour is immense. Our members are willing to even train more graduates. We propose a tax deductible measure to companies so that they can take on more interns,” he said.
The Higher Education, Science and Technology program presented an opportunity to Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) as a Delegated Management Agency (DMA) to contribute towards the skilling of graduates and reducing youth unemployment through provision of suitable internship opportunities.
The HEST report indicated that 97% of the employers are willing to retain the trained interns, however, the 3% are not ready to take them on because they lack facilities or projects to engage these graduates.
In the same report, companies advised universities to abolish some courses because graduates of such courses couldn’t afford work in any sector since their expertise is not required.
This initiative kicked off in 2015 with an aim of skilling 2000 students under funding from the African Development Bank.