“I eagerly look for a job in any of these oil projects. It will be embarrassing if opportunities are taken by people from outside the Albertine region in Uganda and foreigners as we the native youths watch,” remarks Joy Tumusiime.
The young woman is one of the lucky few from Albertine region that have acquired some of the skills needed to become employable in the oil industry. Every daybreak, she imagines operating an excavator or working as a safety manager in either the Tilenga project development, Kingfisher project or at the construction works of Hoima International Airport.
Despite having certificates; one in Journalism and Mass Communication and another in Nursery Teaching (Early Childhood Development), Tumusiime decided to apply for heavy machine operation in anticipation of opportunities during the development phase of Uganda’s oil sector as always highlighted by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU).
She is also one of the youths from families of humble background in the region that are looking around for sponsors to acquire the skills needed on the oil industry job market.
When the opportunity hit last year, she immediately responded and now stands with hope for her future in the oil industry.
“I heard an announcement on Spice FM and I applied in order to become one of the inspiring female excavator operators in the country”, says Tumusiime.
Tumusiime is among the 50 young women of the 150 youths that attended a six-month-training in heavy machine operation sponsored by Enabel Uganda; implemented by Sea oal/OGAS Services in partnership with St. Simon Peter’s Vocational Training Centre in Hoima city last year.
Being a female youth, Tumusiime’s acquisition of an excavator operating skill is not only exciting and hope-giving to her but also to her parents and neighbours at Kinubi Cell in Hoima City.
She is now set with her academic credentials with some applications delivered as she looks around for any other related job openings.
Tumusiime shares her exciting experience at the beginning of a heavy machine operation training with Kazi-njema News.
“It is exciting and I really encourage other young women to apply and share it whenever opportunities come. We should not think it is for men alone, we can do it”, she explains.
The determined Tumusiime has also completed a two-month practical experience as an internee with WIM Services Limited – a company contracted to construct the Buhimba-Kakumiro Road in Kikuube and Kakumiro districts respectively.
Seth Muhumuza, the Head Stakeholders Engagement at the PAU, encourages more youths to embrace vocational skills training because the opportunities are surely coming.
“Any person who has acquired that necessary skill should keep the ear to the ground. Being positive about the industry is very important”, he says.
Total E&P Uganda and CNOOC Uganda Limited have been sponsoring the youths for vocational trainings including welding that lead to international certification.
However, the demand for more sponsorships remains very high in view of the required labour force during the development of the Kingfisher project, the Tilenga project and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.
PAU says that more than 160,000 both direct and indirect employment opportunities will be availed during the development of the Tilenga, Kingfisher and EACOP projects.
The most required opportunities are builders, carpenters, electricians, welders, plumbers and heavy machine operators.
Uganda expects oil production to start by 2025 but similar opportunities will remain as long as the areas of oil exploration identified so far test positive for commercial crude oil.
Ensuring meaningful participation, the native youths in the oil developments is paramount for the smooth progress of the industry.
However, acquiring the necessary skills is still challenging as some parents seem exhausted with the high costs they have incurred educating children up to universities but now to be informed that their education is not relevant to the oil job market.
Like Tumusiime changed her directions from nursery teaching and journalism, degree holders might also need to think of acquiring technical skills.
More sensitisation is needed for Ugandans to technical skills to face the world.