Nakawa Vocational Training Institute is now set and ready to train more industry workers in the new course of mechatronics, following the successful training of the first batch over the last three weeks.
Mechatronics combines mechanical engineering and electronic engineering.
The 46-year-old institute is responding to the growing need for more skilled engineers in Uganda’s private sector.
To implement this special course, Nakawa, through the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), acquired a state-of-the-art laboratory with modern training equipment.
Prior, mechatronics instructors involved received training in the latest skills and technology in Japan.
With the first group now trained and dispatched to their respective industries, Nakawa feels it is set to train even more such industry workers.
“The new training is meant to expand the scope to very many Ugandan engineers, and so Ugandans should use this chance,” said principal Fred Muwanga at the closure of the very first training at the institute on Friday.
Education and sports ministry commissioner James Mugerwa hands a certificate to one of the trainees as principal Fred Muwanga looks on
At a conference held in Tokyo, Japan in 2013, Nakawa Vocational Training Institute was chosen as one of the industrial human resource development centers in Africa.
This was the fifth edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development which stamped emphasis on skills development on the continent.
To develop and consolidate Nakawa's capacity in responding to the needs of the private sector, the TVET-LEAD project was started in 2015. The institute is implementing the project “following records of discussions” signed between the education and sports ministry and JICA.
Part of the five-year project was establishing of the upgrading programme in mechatronics as well as diploma programmes in automobile and electrical engineering.
On Friday, Kazuaki Sugawara from JICA said engineering is about design, making things happen and solving problems, adding that the field calls for creativity, management and communication skills, as well as technical expertise and knowledge.
“The field of engineering is vital to a country's development. That’s why we are working with Nakawa Institute,” said Sugawara.
Shaban Abduallah was part of the first group to be trained in mechatronics at Nakawa.
He said: “Through supporting our industries with the new technology, we know we are training the labour force that can be helpful in running our Ugandan industries,” he said.
Wilson Kajjaku, an instructor at the institute, agrees.
He said this new training is offering practical rather than theoretical lessons, which has enhanced trainees’ understanding of the new technologies.
Instructor Wilson Kajjuka with trainees
Through the TVET-LEAD project, Nakawa Institute looks to improve its employment-oriented vocational training management as well as to disseminate its experience to other BTVET institutions.
Nakawa is one of the four public vocational training institutes directly operated and administered by the education and sports ministry through the BTVET department.
A four-month needs study conducted by Nakawa in 2015 showed that industries had acquired new technologies especially in electro-mechanical systems and in some cases, were employing experts from other countries to operate, maintain and repair the machinery and equipment.
The survey also found that some companies were sponsoring workers for training outside Uganda where such technologies exist.
Nakawa established a Public Private Partnership Working Group where its instructors and staff work together with members from the private sector to identify training needs and developing programmes to address those needs.
And it is through this partnership that Nakawa developed curricula for vocational diploma programmes in automobile and electrical engineering and upgrading training modules for mechatronics.
Profile of these programmes are developed at Level 4 in line with UVQF, the standard set by DIT. In addition, the two diploma curricula were approved by NCDC and forwarded to NCHE for accreditation.
A modular curriculum was developed together with the private sector and industries agreed to conduct training in PLC and Pneumatic systems; Sensor Design Technology; Inverters, Motors and Servosand Micro-controllers.