The head of Uganda Petroleum Institute, an institution established to provide training on the necessary skills required in the oil industry has announced that their graduates have failed to get jobs.
The official announcement of the discovery of commercially viable oil in Uganda caused an excitement, which drew many to anticipate benefits such as jobs and business in the oil industry, a dream many are yet to realise.
Professor Charles Kwesigwa, the Director of Uganda Petroleum Institute, Kigumba says that both graduates of the first and second intakes numbering about 80 are yet to find jobs in the country’s new oil industry.
He explained that they had expectation that oil production would have begun by the time the students graduated to provide them employment opportunities. However, with the oil production yet to begin, there were no employment opportunities for the graduates.
Fred Kabagambe, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, says that government was yet reviewing the field development plans that the oil companies submitted before they could be granted production licenses and eventually begin oil production, a stage that is expected to provide employment opportunities to the petroleum graduates.
However Kwesigwa also added that the petroleum graduates require more advanced training to gain added proficiency needed in the industry.
He explained that they are seeking to send the trainees to Malaysia for more training following their return from Trinidad and Tobago where they had hands-on experience and accreditation. Uganda Petroleum Institute, Kigumba recently announced its third intake after the first two intakes that had 28 and 60 graduates respectively.
Betty Namuburi, the Officer in charge of national Content and Capacity Building at the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department says that while government is interested in building capacity of its citizens in petroleum, they were not concerned about the employment. She explained that it was not possible to employ all the petroleum graduates in the oil sector adding that others could seek employment elsewhere such as the upcoming Karuma dam construction project.
Oil is a capital, hi-tech intensive industry with few employment opportunities.
According to Namubiru, the three oil companies operating in Uganda: Tullow Oil, Total and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) plan to employ only about 500 workers. She explained that Tullow plans to employ 203 workers with 80 percent of them Ugandans while CNOOC intends to employ 115 staff with 70 percent Ugandans adding that Total seeks to recruit 178 workers 60 percent of whom would be Ugandans.
A 2011 study on national content found that the oil industry could provide employment for up to 10,000 people.