Graduates from the Uganda Petroleum Institute Kigumba (UPIK) are rusted and need reskilling and retooling if they are to be employed in the oil and gas sector.
This was revealed by the Principal of the institute, Bernard Ongodia at the just concluded Skilling and Local Content Forum in Kampala after President Yoweri Museveni tasked him to explain the progress of the institute.
Established in 2009, UPIK was meant to train technicians for the oil and gas sector.
The institute offers a two-year diploma in petroleum studies with options in drilling, electrical installation, instrumentation and welding, after which the participants do a six-month practical training in Trinidad and Tobago , on a program organized in partnership with the Caribbean island’s government.
Ongodia said ever since the institute was created, it has produced just 133 technicians, who were also trained in Trinidad and Tobago.
This effort to ensure ‘local content’ in the supply of skilled workers to the oil industry may not be enough to qualify the graduates for jobs.
Upon their return, explained Ongodia, the technicians have been redundant, partly because there were fewer activities in the sector, but also because their training does not fit very well with the needs of the sector.
Ongodia said for the technicians to be easily absorbed into the oil and gas sector they require reskilling and retooling. An assessment of the institute’s curriculum discovered that the current diploma course was too broad and not relevant to the industry.
However, Ongodia says the institute is introducing new two-year diploma courses relevant to the industry, including Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), mechanical maintenance, electrification and pipeline engineering.
Additionally, certificate courses in specialized fields will also be introduced to run for between six months and a year.
Museveni said as the country builds its own mass of technicians to work in the oil and gas industry, a short-term option would be to import technicians from other oil-producing African countries like Nigeria, Angola, Ghana and Equatorial Guinea, among others.
At its peak, the oil and gas sector will produce 67,000 jobs, according to a baseline study by the Joint Venture Partners Total, CNOOC and Tullow.
Already, a number of international training companies are establishing shop in Uganda, providing various training in skills like welding, defensive driving, HSE, heavy lifting, etc.