Apprenticeship brings a new dawn for host community and refugee youth in Uganda

The ILO, with support from the government of the Netherlands and participation of the government of Uganda, employers and training institutes, has been able to place 95 hotel management apprentices in 40 hotels to gain on-the-job experience

News | 25 February 2022
Apprentices attending classroom session at the UHTTI ©ILO
With a lot of curiosity and eagerness, a team from the International Labour Organization (ILO), Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) and Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA) visited the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (UHTTI) in Jinja on 10 February 2022. A team of 95 refugee and host community youth were enrolled in this institute in January 2022 as part of an apprenticeship development programme under the PROSPECTS Partnership. Their enrolment at UHTTI followed a two-year delay as training institutions and colleges were closed as part of efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. After completing the first phase of college-based training, these apprentices were about to depart for their first on-the-job training experience in 40 different hotels across the country and the ILO tripartite delegation was keen to know more about their preparedness for their journey ahead.

“What an honour to see the transformation in the faces of the apprentices just one month after officially starting the programme,” exclaimed Ms Jean Byamugisha, Executive Director of the UHOA and a member of the visiting team. She added: “I remember when we interviewed them in the refugee settlements in 2020 when they resembled the very definition of “vulnerable” persons. One month later, after reporting to UHTTI their faces are fuller and brighter and more hopeful, full of life, full of dreams and full of love.”

Apprentices at the practical cooking session at UHTTI ©ILO
The visiting team was thrilled with the positive impact on these young people in the programme, which will run for 12 months spread across 3 terms between January to December 2022. The apprentices will spend 30 per cent of their time at the training college and 70 per cent in the hotels undergoing workplace training under the supervision of trained trainers guided by the curriculum developed with the support of the ILO. All the partners involved in the programme play different but mutually reinforcing roles of overall governance of apprenticeships, workplace training for apprentices and pedagogical training respectively.

Mr Stephen Opio, Chief Technical Advisor, ILO PROSPECTS Uganda, said: “Beyond the policy support to government on apprenticeships and workplace learning, we are investing in this pilot apprenticeship scheme because it offers enormous opportunities for school-to-work transition and offers employers the opportunity to participate in training the workforce they desire.”

At the same time, the apprentices benefit from learning practical skills and waged employment offering more workplace protection. “It is of the utmost importance not only for the refugees who are part of this pilot, but for all of these young people. This is in line with the SDG principles of leaving no one behind,” added Opio.

The beauty of apprenticeship programmes is that they are demand-based and offer a practical solution to address skills mismatch in the labour market that can impede trained youth in transitioning into productive employment.

Refugee and host community apprentices from Nakivale and Isingiro District ahead of their departure to UHTTI ©ILO
“Without appropriate skills, labour market outcomes are poor. There is underemployment and low productivity. Thus, the government is revitalizing apprenticeships to complement other skills development approaches. The government is committed to implementing apprenticeships as it offers a window of opportunity for these young people to acquire marketable skills while also earning a livelihood,” said Mr Henry Mutebe, Apprenticeship and Graduate Volunteer Coordinator at the MGLSD.

The apprentices, supported by the PROSPECTS programme, will undergo training across four occupations (food production, front office, food and beverages services and housekeeping and laundry) and will later specialize in one occupation of their interest. This pilot programme is inclusive, involving 62 males, 33 females, 71 refugees and 24 host community youth and two persons with disabilities (all males). These apprentices are now engaged in hotels to receive their first ever industry exposure.

Steps followed in the PROSPECTS apprenticeship programme in Uganda
“I am very proud of all the partners for living up to all our expectations. This success is due to the hard work of all involved in implementing the apprenticeship programme. Most importantly, I am very grateful to the ILO for supporting this pilot programme in the hotel sector. This is the first of its kind for the hotels. It has created a lot of excitement and goodwill from our members. We will certainly be honoured to continue the programme on a much bigger scale next year,” added Ms Byamugisha.

The PROSPECTS Partnership through which this apprenticeship pilot is being supported is a multi-year programme, funded by the Government of the Netherlands, that brings together five agencies – International Labour Organization (ILO), International Finance Cooperation (IFC), World Bank, UNICEF and UNHCR to devise collaborative and innovative approaches for inclusive job creation and education in contexts characterized by forced displacement. In Uganda PROSPECTS Programme is focussing on the districts of Arua, Madi-Okollo, Terego and Isingiro.