In line with setting up stage to position youth to benefit from the massive investments during the oil and gas development phase, Cabinet approved the Local Content Policy aimed at promoting employment of Ugandans in the sector. Last Thursday, the Minister for Education, Ms Janet Museveni, unveiled the Welders Certification Programme in partnership with CNOOC Uganda so as to draw close opportunities for Ugandans, especially the youth, in the oil and gas sector.
CNOOC and other partners have done this to strengthen Uganda’s efforts to train, skill and certify Ugandans, especially those in the Albertine region, as well as equip them with the necessary skills and certification to participate in the budding oil and gas industry. Our country shelters the world’s youngest population with more than 78 per cent below the age of 30 and this can’t be disputed as about half of the population is below 24 years. These young people have the potential to take on the available job opportunities in the oil industry, especially in the mid-stream phase, which will in turn equip them with skills and knowledge for future upstream jobs in the sector.
An assessment by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), which is required to establish, maintain and operate a national human capacity register, indicates that out of the 1,600 new jobs that will be generated in the oil and gas industry, 60 per cent will require technically skilled artisans trained at vocational institutions rather than graduates from universities. This is an indication that the partnership between CNOOC and ministry of Education is geared towards the prosperity of the youth.
Today, the oil industry has entered into the most important and delicate phase of oil exploration and there has never been a better time to invest in young people.

Young people have the potential to quickly learn and be instrumental in disseminating valuable information to the local communities instead of the complex EIA reports with technical terminologies, which definitely limits the effectiveness of public participation.

The key challenges for youth today include lack of jobs, difficulty in obtaining a first job, under employment and job quality. If we can realise the benefits of our big youth population in the oil sector; the youth can be instrumental in making us realise Vision 2040.
Turning on to the rural youth, it is clearly evident that our rural youth remain at the end of a very long queue for a small number of jobs. A youth from the village with some talent in welding, wiring or mechanics should be considered for a job at an oil site.

As it is evident that more accessible job opportunities will likely appear in construction, ancillary and service industries as well as in oil-centred towns such as Hoima and Masindi, which are already experiencing an oil-driven development boom.

For rural youth, who have the least chance to acquire skills and work experience, the biggest opportunity may lie in growing demand and opportunities in the oil industry rather than concentrating on the high-end farm products such as meat and fresh vegetables.

In the spirit of solidarity, all players in the oil and gas industry seem to agree that skilling should be done through private-public partnerships.
Lillian Aber, lillianfranka@gmail.com