By John Kasozi
TREKKING from home to his workplace everyday triggered his desire to take up metal fabrication. The sight of doors and windows displayed along the Kawempe-Kawanda road made 26-year-old Kenneth Kalule crave to study metal fabrication.
â€œAs I commuted to work everyday, I noticed that people in the fabrication industry were occupied the whole day, a sign that they earned good money. I yearned to do a professional technical course,â€ said Kalule.
After completing Senior Four at Mita College in Kawempe, in 2003, Kalule was employed by the Riham biscuits factory. â€œLater, my brother took me to Mulago Vocational Training Centre,â€ Kalule said.
He was offered a two-year metal fabrication course in 2004. After he completed his first year, Kalule got an industrial training placement at Tonnet Agro Engineering Company. The Kanyanya-based group makes food-processing machines, agricultural implements and spare parts.
After the industrial training, Kalule requested his boss to let him continue working with the company. â€œFrom the first week of industrial training, I was taken on. I liked the workplace. I was exposed to more advanced metal fabrication than I had anticipated. This is why I requested the manager of the company to let me continue working with them as I continued with my second year studies,â€ he said.
Just before he sat for his second year final examination, Nakawa Vocational Training Institute offered Tonnet one place to train one of their staff. â€œMy boss recommended me and I was taken on for a one-month training,â€ he recalls.
During the training, Kalule and other trainees were exposed to agro-processing machines similar to those made by Tonnet. â€œThere were 12 of us in four teams of three people each. Each team was responsible for putting together a winnower vice that processes cereals,â€ he explains.
After the training, Kalule was given a full-time job at Tonnet. Meanwhile, he went back to Mulago Vocational School and sat for his second year final exams.
â€œSince I joined Tonnet, I have gained a lot of technical skills. The techniques used in the workshop are of high level. I had never dreamt of using such sophisticated tools and machinery. I am applying what I studied at vocational school,â€ he said. â€œMy scope in the fabrication sector has been widened. At Tonnet, my creativity grows every other day.â€
Kalule has worked on and is fascinated by the maize sheller, which separates maize grains from the cob and the cereal cleaner which picks dust and stones from cereals and grades them. He has also worked on the newly-developed maize-cob grinder, which crushes 500kg of maize in one hour.
Kalule has no regrets about joining the metal fabrication vocation at an early age. â€œMany of my former classmates are still struggling to join the university and might not get jobs when they graduate. Many others who graduated some years back are still jobless.â€