Apart from the infrastructure challenges faced by Uganda in its quest to develop its oil and gas industry, the lack of the requisite skills needed by the industry is another gap that needs to be urgently addressed if the locals are to benefit maximally from the natural resource.
No wonder, several institutions have added a course or two related to the oil sector.
In this interview Dr. Stephen Robert Isabalija, the Vice Chancellor at Victoria University explains how the new institution is making it easy for Ugandans to acquire the right training to ready them for a career in the extractive industry:
Why Victoria University, for anyone in need of quality education?
We are motivated by experiential learning; that is what brought us to the market. Our promoters are entrepreneurs and our vision is to change the way how education is done. For a while now, many employers have been saying that fresh graduates lack the right skills to make it on the market, Victoria University seeks to address this. Our graduates must only leave us when they are ready to take on the market.
Besides, being in the city center, it is easier for us to partner with the government and the private sector especially seeing that many people are retooling themselves nowadays.
How thorough is the department of Petroleum and Energy Studies at Victoria University?
This particular department was formed to address the need for skilled Ugandans to work in the new oil and gas industry. We thought it was important to take the lead in training the first generation of Ugandan petroleum experts considering that only a small number can afford to pursue these courses abroad.
The programs here include Bachelor of Science in Oil & Gas Accounting, Certificate in Oil & Gas Law, Certificate in Oil & Gas Project Management, Certificate in Oil & Gas Health, Safety & Environmental Management, Certificate in Supply Chain and Logistic Management and Certificate in Oil and Gas Management.
By August, 2016 we will have introduced engineering courses.
How has been the uptake from the public so far?
We have so far trained about 150 students ? with some already done with their courses. More will be admitted in the January intake.
To qualify for any of the courses a student must have completed Senior Six education with a bias for economics and math if they intend to pursue a bachelor?s degree.
We also carry out retooling for professionals whether they are already working in the extractives sectors or not; as these extra skills come in handy for anyone trying to further their careers.
Our graduates are very competitive and ready for deployment when walking out of here. In fact some have already been employed in the oil industry.
How are you meeting the high skilling standards expected by the industry?
We are fully aware of the demands of this sector hence our partnerships with international organizations like the Institute of Public and Private Partnerships. We also recently partnered with the College of Natural Sciences of Makerere University to boost our petroleum department are in touch with other well respected global universities to support us deliver a quality education.
In addition, our lecturers were part of the Local Content Policy formulation and we continue to engage both the state and the companies in the industry on various issues. No wonder every one of our students has visited the oil fields.
Of course, with the oil industry new in Uganda, and a highly specialized one at that, it can be very difficult to find the right trainers to do the job but we have so far been lucky in attracting the very best.