By David Muwanga
UGANDAâ€™S labour productivity is the lowest in East Africa due to failure by the universities to provide skills that are relevant to the job market, the Uganda Manufacturers Associationâ€™s (UMA) executive director has observed.
â€œAccording to report for the study: â€œCompeting in the Global Economy: An Investment Climate Assessment of Uganda, 2004,â€ Uganda is less 60% and 40% respectively than Kenya and Tanzania in labour productivity,â€ Gideon Bagadawa added.
â€œThis means that for every one Kenyan, Uganda has to employ six people to do a job that would be done by one Kenyan. One Tanzanian can do a job that is done by four Ugandans,â€ he elaborated recently during a meeting with the Minister of Education and Sports, Namirembe Bitamazire, at her offices at Embassy House in Kampala.
â€œThis is attributed to Ugandaâ€™s poor education system that does not provide technical skills that are relevant to the industry,â€ Bagadawa explained.
â€œThat is why the Uganda Manufacturers Association is reviving the placement of university students into industries for practical lessons,â€ he explained.
Bagadawa said many manufacturers had found out that they employ graduates whom they end up teaching what they are supposed to do instead of them working.
â€œI have also received complaints from investors that the graduates they employ lack practical skills. Instead, they teach them at the place of employment what they are employed to do either in offices or factories,â€ Bitamazire said.
â€œThis is due to the poor transfer of skills from the lecture theatre to the factory. As a ministry, we are also preparing for a new programme on labour orientation of students from universities,â€ she said.
Bitamazire said many universities had introduced a number of courses that were not relevant to the job market, resulting into graduates failing to get employed.
â€œAs a result, the Government is planning to expand existing technical and vocational training institutions and to build new ones when funds are secured,â€ she said.