90 students who have been undergoing on-job studies under the Ministry for Gender, Labor and Social Development’s revived Apprenticeship program, have graduated after successfully completing their studies in different fields in the hotel industry.
This is the first graduation ceremony the ministry is holding since the revival of this program that fizzled out in the 1970s as a result of numerous factors including the expulsion of Asians among others.
The Ministry now describes this stride as a significant milestone in the country’s efforts to tackle unemployment and underemployment.
Alex Asiimwe, the commissioner Labour, Industrial Relations and Productivity but also the National Apprenticeship Superintendent, described the event as significant not only for the graduands but also the nation at large.
“We are here to witness the first graduation of apprentices in generations. This marks the inauguration of a new and promising chapter in our country’s development.” he said at the graduation ceremony held at Sheraton hotel and presided over by Gender minister Betty Amongi Akena.
He revealed that in the colonial and immediate post-colonial era, apprenticeships played a critical role in skills development, until the program collapsed in the 1970s due to a host of factors, including the expulsion of Asians and the restructuring of industrial training institutions.
He noted that unfortunately, the restructuring of industrial training institutions did not adequately address the necessary legal and institutional mechanisms.
Asiimwe revealed that 67% of the apprentices had already been offered employment by the host and non-hosting hotels, while others had opened up individual businesses based on the skillsets they had acquired especially in pastry and bakin
Meanwhile, Amongi revealed that in 2018 President Yoweri Museveni tasked the Ministry to revitalize the National Apprenticeship Scheme in key sectors of the economy and subsequently a national Framework was approved by Cabinet.
She added that working in collaboration with Uganda Hotel Owners’ Association (UHOA), Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (UHTTI) and Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT), and with financial and technical support from The Netherlands Embassy and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Ministry successfully launched an Apprenticeship Pilot Scheme in the Hotel sub-sector, leading up to the yesterday’s graduation of 90 students.
“Apprenticeships are a powerful strategy to confront skills deficiencies in the labour market because it offers hands-on skill development, engages employers directly, and provides tailored learning that aligns with industry needs” she said adding that this approach responds to Museveni’s prioritization of skilling and re-skilling of school leavers and dropouts to enhance their employability, including self-employment.
Amongi who is also MP Oyam South the same program resonates with the Economic Growth Strategy, which focuses on developing a knowledgeable, skilled, and ethical workforce.
The Minister was all smiles over the collaborative efforts of stakeholders including the instructors and 35 hotels spread across the country that accepted and trained the apprentices.
She urged all employers to embrace apprenticeships as a key avenue for skills development, enhanced production and productivity.
In another development, UN Resident Coordinator, Susan Ngongi Namondo commended Uganda for its open door policy for refugees and the promotion of regional integration, which she said had enabled learners from refugee and host communities benefit from the pilot phase of the new apprenticeship program.
The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda, Her Excellency Karin Boven noted that her country was happy to have provided financial support for the intervention and pledged to continue supporting the skills development agenda.
The apprentices were implored to perform their duties with excellence and rebuild the value of apprenticeship in Uganda.