09 July 2019

Felix Okwera is part of the first
group of students to be recruited and trained in the Skills for Construction
project. “I heard about the project when it was advertised by a megaphone
on the streets of my home Pakwach Town but I did not take it seriously until I
heard about it the second time on our only district radio Pakwach FM,” he

Okwera registered, sat for the
interviews and was shortlisted for the training, which he started in February.
After training, he was assigned to work at a renovation site at a primary
school. This was his first job in construction.

Okwera and 1,500 others are part
of the ongoing skilling exercise as part of efforts to prepare Ugandans for
jobs in upcoming infrastructure projects.

The Skills for Construction (S4C)
project aims at equipping youth between 18 and 35 years with basic construction
skills, pipefitting, and rigging. Launched with 600 graduate trainees, the
training is implemented by the Employment and Skills for Eastern Africa
(E4D/SOGA) and lasts 10 weeks.

Okwera has applied at a Chinese
construction company called Mukoda which is constructing roads in Pakwach
District. “These skills have transformed the youth of Pakwach District.
Many of us were unemployed without any hope of finding jobs but now we also
have skills that companies can make use of.”

Similarly, Maureen Akwee from
Kampala started her training in March as the sixth female student in a class of
25. “In the first two weeks, I learned personal interaction skills,
communication skills, how to avoid sexual harassment at the workplace, and
financial planning, among other skills. The next four weeks I learned
occupational health and safety and why it is important,” she says.

“With determination and help
from my group members, I ended up excelling and learning these new things. At
Level II, I started learning rigging and am now proud to be a rigger,”
Akwee shares.

“Uganda is characterised by
theoretical education that leaves graduates with no practical skills but only
vulnerable, in search of jobs. Skills training, on the other hand, is
transformational, it has given hope to many Youth of Pakwach District most of
whom were unemployed,” Robert Omito, the Pakwach District chairman, said
during the graduation of the first batch of trainees in Kampala recently.

All graduates were offered jobs from top construction companies and the skills for construction graduates will be certified by the Engineering, Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), a widely accepted certificate.

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