The Petroleum Authority of Uganda, the key regulator of Uganda’s oil and gas resources has said the country has been able to plug the skills gap in the sector.
“The gap has so far been filled. The issue of experience has been demystified by the trainings conducted. Recently, we witnessed the testing of Ugandan welders by international welders at Sunmaker Energy (U) Ltd organized by Tilenga Sinopec program and all the 40 welders who were trained with international certification were confirmed to have qualified to work in oil and gas sector. The country is starting to readily get prepared to take up opportunities oil and gas sector is presenting. The gap has so far been filled,” said James Okwi, the skills development officer at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU).
Okwi was speaking during the closing ceremony of a six weeks training and mentorship program for Mbarara University of Science and Technology students conducted by Tarn Energy Services Ltd (TESL) in Kampala.
He noted that in the past, the skills gap was so big in the oil and gas sector yet works in the sector had to kick off.
“When we began, we didn’t even have welders of 2G but we have had trainings from 2G and now we have many in 5G and 6G .We realized even the logistics industry didn’t have people. We didn’t have people who could drive the heavy vehicles and we therefore decided to reskill them and now we have many who trained with heavy goods vehicle driving standards for East Africa and with international certification.”
“From my own perspective, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda is happy especially from the national content team that the final investment decision was delayed because it gave us an opportunity to prepare ourselves to take up the jobs in the oil and gas sector When the oil and gas conversation started here, it was unprecedented. We thought when you are an engineer from Makerere University, you just walk in the oil and gas sector and when reality hit us, we realized to work in oil and gas sector, one requires additional international certifications. However, the oil and gas sector can now pride with many young people having international certification. Our attempts have so far yielded positive results.”
The skills development officer at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda explained that in a bid to close the gap, government accredited several vocational training institutes under city and guilds that trained Ugandans seeking to work in the oil and gas industry whereas others were encouraged to get international certifications.
“We now have over 4800 Ugandans who are right now working with oil and gas companies .The young people can get placement in oil and sector gas world and over.”
The official from the Petroleum Authority of Uganda applauded companies like Tarn Energy Services Ltd that he said have played a big role in offering placements to university students for internship.
“We ask other players to give places to students since this experience is what is required in the oil and gas sector .The sector sets high standards and don’t want anyone to go and experiment with their equipment.”
According to Norbert Musisi, the Managing Director for Tarn Energy services, the company conducts internship trainings and mentorship for university students in the oil and energy sector in a bid to close the existing gap.
“In 2019, we observed that many oil and gas students were unable to get internship placement because there are more students than the firms that provide placement. We therefore created an internship and mentorship program where we train students who study oil and gas related courses in six main areas including health and safety, corporate governance, petrel and Arc GIS software, foundations of Uganda’s oil and gas Industry, workplace skills and national local content regulations of Uganda,”Musisi noted.
He added that the internship program seeks to respond to the outcry of players in the industry over half-baked graduates.
“Many players have always complained of half-baked graduates and the need for further training to help them transition from being students to becoming employees. We therefore put a lot of emphasis on both soft and technical skills training. Our training model is project-based and interactive so that we address the skill gaps in the industry.”