The ministry of Education and Sports is working on a document to ensure that vocational education and training becomes a mandatory requirement by law and all businesses, technical and vocational enterprises tasked to employ only skilled workers and competent technicians, writes YUDAYA NANGONZI.
The state minister for Higher Education, John Muyingo said vocational skills are vital for an individual, enterprise, and the economy since they lead to self-reliance, increased productivity and higher incomes for the nation. He said shortage of these skills retards the capacity to solve problems, slows down the process of national transformation, and prolongs the journey to development.
“Currently, I am writing something about vocationalisation of education. Uganda must develop and very fast. If the formula to success is that each Ugandan must acquire a vocational skill, let us do it because research has shown that this is the way to go,” Muyingo said.
The minister made this revelation while releasing the Uganda Vocational Qualification (UVQ) full occupational and modular assessment results for October to December 2020. Due to Covid-19 and adjustments to the education calendar, the assessment was conducted from March 5 to May 28, 2021.
He explained that once the document is finalized, teachers, no matter the subject one is teaching must be mindful of the need to impart vocational or employable skills to learners right from day one when one joins school.
With high rates of youth unemployment in the country, the minister urged learners in and out of school to register with enterprises and vocational institutions to acquire demand driven skills which will prepare them to fill the skills gap in the job market.
Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the director of the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT), Patrick Byakatonda, noted an increment in registration of candidates from 62,772 in 2019 to 65,126 in 2020. The assessment centers also increased from 1,089 to 2,792 in the same period.
Out of the 65,126 registered candidates, 9,826 (15.1 per cent) registered for full occupational assessment [Level I, II, III, & IV] and 55,264 (84.9 per cent] candidates registered for modular assessment. Of the total candidature, 38,526 (59.2 per cent) were female and 26,600 (40.8 per cent) male.
Byakatonda noted that of the 9,826 (15.1 per cent) candidates that registered for full occupational assessment, at least 9,517 (96.5 per cent) were successful, 62 (0.6 per cent) were referred, 134 (1.4 per cent) unsuccessful and 149 (1.5 per cent) were absent. This represented a 9.4 per cent increase in performance compared to 2019.
Under Modular assessment, there was a 5.3 percentage decrease in performance for successful candidates, an increase of 0.7 per cent and 4.6 per cent for the unsuccessful and absent candidates respectively.
Out the 55,264 candidates that were assessed in this category, only 48,192 candidates passed, 1,125 were unsuccessful, and 5,947 were absent. Candidates that were absent had completed their respective training and joined the world of work without being assessed.
Byakatonda explained that now that the DIT has an International Organization of Standardization (ISO) number 9001:2015 and Certificate number UG92580A, such absent candidates will miss out opportunities that come with gainful employment nationally and internationally.
Meanwhile, he also welcomed the move by the ministry to vocationalise education saying that whereas Competence-Based Education and Training (CBET) calls for more resources than the normal school system, the benefits are immense in future.
“CBET assessment is more expensive but hands on to prepare a person for the world of work. During assessment, you use industrial assessors whose allowances are a little higher compared to the normal examination assessors,” Byakatonda said. He added that government can achieve the plan of every employer having a skilled person once it partners with the private sector.
He cited Kenya’s National Industrial Training Authority where every employer contributes towards training of nationals.
“If you go to their [Kenya’s] hospitality sector, there’s a fee specifically for training people in that sector. It is more like a training levy. In the vocational reforms, we’re supposed to have a skills development fund which is currently being piloted under the private sector. Government needs to work first on this pilot, now almost in its fourth year, since we have the highest number of youths,” he said.
The introduction of CBET in schools will also call for increased capitation grants for government schools that are still laid back on enhancing skills assessment due to inadequate funds to cater for vocational education.