Tourism remains a major contributor to Uganda’s economy, generating more than 7% of the Gross Domestic Product and employing thousands of young people directly and indirectly. With appropriate skills, the sector will only grow from strength to strength and Uganda can position herself as one of the World’s premier tourism destinations. However, whereas Government of Uganda has committed to increasing the quality and relevance of skills development, the tourism and hospitality sector still experiences critical skills shortages.
I am excited to note that the story is steadily changing now. The turning point came in 2019 when together with nearly 30 delegates from the rest of Africa, I benefited from Australia Awards Africa Training in TVET Trainer Development, a practical program implemented by QUT in partnership with TAFE Queensland. I learnt a lot on how to improve the TVET systems particularly through implementing a CBET and involvement of employers in skilling processes.
I got the opportunity to pilot the skills and knowledge acquired during the implementation of my Re-integration Action Plan in which I embarked on improving the quality of training for tourist guides since they were the frontline workers in managing the tourist itineraries. I gladly worked with the Tourism and Hospitality Sector Skills Council, Directorate of Industrial Training and employers– the industry experts, to develop the Assessment and Training Packages (ATP) for Tourist Guides. This guide, which incorporates both technical and soft skills, is now providing a framework for not only training students but also upskilling the industrial practitioners with skills and competences needed to thrive in the labour market.
Notwithstanding challenges ushered in by COVID-19, following the government guidelines, the intervention was complemented by Training of Trainers and Assessors for Tourist Guides who will continue to implement the reforms. I am happy that the major stakeholders – training providers, employers, government and Development Partners were involved and have greatly welcomed the new development, are supportive and have adopted the approach.
I am highly optimistic that the interventions will enhance the capability of trainees increasing their employability. The design of this ATP allows flexibility of delivery in terms of duration, setting, mode and content delivery. This mode of delivery facilitates inclusiveness and promotes access to acquisition of skills.