Govt to link vocational students to employers

By Martin Kitubi

The skills fair will run for three days from May 7-9 at UMA showgrounds

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Several people in the country especially the youth have enrolled for different vocational skills at both private and public training institutions.

Despite the strides, the education ministry says, a number of graduates have remained unemployed mainly attribute to lack of linkages with employers in the country.

In addition, the ministry said that the problem was due to the fact that training institutes were training skills that are not relevant to the industry.

With this background, the education ministry will hold the National Skills Fair, the first of its kind, to serve several purposes including linking vocational students to employers.

The skills fair will run for three days from May 7-9 at Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) showgrounds in Kampala.

According to authorities, the First Lady and Minister for Education and Sports, Janet Museveni is expected to officiate the first skills fair.

The fair is organised by the education ministry in collaboration with Belgium Development Agency (Enabel) and the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU).

The fair will bring together students exhibitors, producers and manufacturers, employers and training institutions to interact for training and work opportunities.

The platform will be used to showcase a variety of skills, resources and tools that the youth have obtained through the Skills Development Fund.

The fair will also provide a platform for stakeholders, training institutions and industries to learn and develop training systems, practices that are relevant to the labour market needs.

James Mugerwa, the ministry of education assistant commissioner in charge of vocational education, said that the fair will be used by students to demonstrate hands-on skills and sharing innovations.

In addition, he said it will provide opportunities for networking, establishing partnerships and collaborations in the skills development and public-private partnership.

"We (education ministry) have trained many students, and this will be an opportunity for them to sell their ideas to the world," he said.

Mugerwa added that the skills fair is a platform for local businesses to engage face-to-face with a large number of people who are potential clients.

He added that it can also potentially enable pupils and students to get a better understanding of their future career opportunities and skill needs.

He made the remarks yesterday while making the pronouncement for the National Skills Fair at the education ministry headquarters in Kampala.

Ruth Biyinzika Musoke the head of skills development facility at PSFU will cover sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, tourism, ICT and hospitality as well as oil and gas skills.

"Entrance is free of charge. Come and learn the contribution that skilling makes to Uganda's economy," she said.

Skills development facility

The SDF is one of the interventions that were set by government and donors to champion the Skilling Uganda Strategy, which was launched in 2012.

The facility has enabled many unemployed people including graduates and training institutions to enrol and learn some skills that they have used to get jobs or start up their own enterprises.

Christine Karungi from Enabel said over 30,000 youths have been trained under the project.