MAKERERE University has invited its graduates who have failed to get jobs to go back for free vocational training. The programme aims at equipping unemployed graduates with better practical skills.
According to the gender and labour ministry, of the 400,000 who graduate every year, only 160,000 get jobs. The Vice- Chancellor, Prof Venansius Baryamureeba, says the programme will help the graduates to start and run their own businesses effectively.
Some of the courses included in the programme are entrepreneurship, tourism, leisure, road maintenance, food processing and carpentry.
This is a commendable and revolutionary approach to the escalating level of unemployment which gets worse every passing year. It is also a recognition that a university degree perse does not guarantee employment. For a long time it has been argued that our university education is too theoretical.
There is a mismatch between what is taught and how it is taught and what graduates actually meet in the field. This realisation is important because it demands a new approach to the practical challenges in life.
If graduates who train to work in garages, hair salons and carpentry workshops are to excel, they need to be counselled and sensitised to change their mentality.
The school system in Uganda prepares the learner for white-collar jobs and this has created a mindset of looking down on certain jobs. But white-collar jobs are getting more and more scarce.
Vocational education is the best avenue for employment because it produces immediate and tangible results. It is encouraging that the department of food science and technology, computer science and engineering at Makerere are already running donor-funded vocational courses. The Government should take the cue and aggressively establish vocational institutions countrywide.
Vocational education the way to go