In a joint expression of concern, the Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB) and the Uganda Institute of Professional Engineers (UIPE) have raised alarms regarding the challenges faced by Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) trainees in obtaining industrial attachment opportunities. Industrial attachments are obligatory for these trainees to gain specific learning outcomes that enhance their employability upon program completion.
UBTEB’s Executive Secretary, Onesmus Oyesigye, has highlighted the increasing reluctance of employers in both the public and private sectors to provide attachment opportunities. This trend negatively impacts students, hindering their acquisition of essential real-world experience and disrupting the assessment process. Many students struggle to complete their courses due to difficulties in securing practical placements.
Employers and industries often decline to accept trainees due to concerns such as cost limitations, resource constraints, safety risks, and reduced productivity. Hosting trainees may divert experienced employees’ focus from their regular duties.
Eng. Andrew Muhwezi, the President of UIPE, criticizes the current practice as vague and counterproductive. He emphasizes the crucial role of industrial attachment in producing highly skilled artisans and technicians. Muhwezi advocates for employers to offer opportunities for training, benefiting from the reduced costs associated with orienting and training new employees when skilled trainees emerge from TVET institutions.
In response to this challenge, UIPE and UBTEB are working together to address the issue. Their efforts include supporting artisans and technicians in securing suitable industrial attachments and establishing, validating, and enforcing educational institutions’ curricula and qualification standards. This entails creating relevant assessment, occupation, and certification standards tailored to industry demands, along with continuous review of industrial training and real-life project assessments.
Loy Abaine Muhwezi, the Commissioner for TVET Operations and Management at the Ministry of Education and Sports, acknowledges the significant challenge of employers limiting TVET trainees’ attachment opportunities. She notes that the government aims to address this issue through ongoing TVET reforms, emphasizing a tripartite model to foster collaboration between assessors, trainers, and industry. These reforms aim to create a structured framework for industries to readily provide industrial attachment opportunities without resistance.
The recently approved TVET policy includes provisions for Sector Skills Councils to ensure employers actively participate in providing practical training experiences for learners through mentorship, internships, apprenticeships, and industrial attachments. However, the implementation of the TVET policy is currently pending, awaiting approval of the draft TVET Act by the cabinet.