Skills development in the oil and gas industry is a key component in preparing Ugandans to work in this new moneyed industry. In this industry we talk to Dr. Drake Kyarimpa, the Coordinator of Oil and Gas Training at Victoria University Kampala.
Victoria University Kampala is one of the few tertiary institutions offering oil and gas related training, right now, what is the Department of Petroleum and Gas Studies under the Faculty of Business and Management offering?
What I can say is that the programs that Victoria University has been offering, the short courses which run for sex weekends and the long term program, the BSc in Oil and Gas Accounting, which is three years, are actively running.
These are skill imparting courses; normally we include practicals aspects in all the modules we delivers in the oil and gas certificate courses. We have the theory and practical part of the training.
The practical part is enhanced by field trips to the albertine region. The field trip is compulsory once you do the six weeks. We work with ministry of energy and mineral development and oil companies to make these trips happen.
Our target are students who have finished A-Levels and has two principal passes; that is the minimum for the certificate courses. We cannot admit someone who is or has only finished senior four. Then we are also looking those others working in the industry.
Apart from those who have completed A-Level, all the others, whether you are a degree holder, diploma holder in any other sector of the economy, but you want to want or have interest in knowing the workings of the oil and gas industry, we can admit and train you.
We are now recruiting delegates for short courses, for July-August intake. We train our delegates along the entire oil and gas value chain.
Lets talk about accreditation, oil and gas industry is quite demanding and sensitive, there are international accrediting bodies and organizations, are you working with any or has any accredited you to carry out these training?
You know very well that this University wouldn't be existing if it has not been accredited by Uganda National Council for Higher Education (NCHE). This implies that all courses offered by Victoria University are genuine and of high quality. Most importantly, the short courses offered here are localized and introductory modules.
The advantage Victoria University has when it comes to oil and gas training is that the quality of our training programs has been enhanced by our partnership with Coventry University in the United Kingdom.
We are coordinating an oil and gas project with Coventry University and Ministry of Education and Sports called Twinning for Curriculum Development, International Accreditation and Adaption and Training in Petroleum Related Construction Trades at Uganda Technical College, Kichwamba.
In the long term, we hope that Coventry University together with the ministry of education, will also accredit all the oil and gas short courses at Victoria University.
You mentioned that you are worried our graduates won’t be accepted in the industry, this is not going to happen. Some of our students who did short courses have been absorbed and are now working with oil companies and service providers. All they needed was basic knowledge to be able to work in the industry.
Others have used these certificates to upgrade their education in the UK. I have recommended about five or six who are admitted. You cannot be admitted in UK if they don’t value the programs you have studied locally.
In terms of using it to work, these short certificate courses are basic. An introduction to how the market works. These students cannot be engineers of geologists. But what you should know is that Victoria University is in the right direction in acquiring all accreditation.
Under this Kichwamba project, Coventry University has a City and Guilds Collage which will accredit the four courses in vocational skills. But we also have an understanding that the ministry of education will allow Victoria University to offer the same courses once they are accepted.
Do you have a time frame to say between now and then Kichwamba should be able to offer these Coventry University accredited training programs?
The project is a two and half year project. We are in the second phase of its implementation. We are making sure the labs in Kichwamba work well and that they have the right equipment. We want the international partners to come when the labs and equipment work well. That is where are are now.
We begin instruction (teaching) at Kichwamba this September. This means that by the time teaching is allowed, then all courses have been accredited. The first graduads for this program will come through mid half of 2019 - one year certificate, 70 percent practical.
We are talking about students who are going to build the pipeline. This is purely a government program. Coventry and Victoria University are implementing agencies. We have the capacity. We can fly in the facilitators and they teach our students.
We are in the development phase of the oil and gas industry, is there time for people to train and be able to get employed in the industry because infrastructure development which is supposed to employ the biggest number of Ugandans is already happening?
Somehow, when you look at the timeline of the implementation of some of these projects you note that we will miss some and get some. Under the refinery project, you will hear government looking for the EPC company.
When the EPC company is contracted, it takes another good period of time to ensure that this company is in place and functioning. Remember here you are producing graduates with HSE knowledge, graduates with the basics of the industry, they are already existing.
What value does Coventry bring to this partnership?
The facilities and facilitators and instructors of this program are administered by Victoria University. By virtual of that, we have the advantage of accessing high quality training material from Coventry University.
Coventry is a leading trainer of oil and gas accredited courses therefore by being partners with them it means we can also have courses accredited by them. If we have Coventry accreditation, the issue of certifying our courses here becomes much more easier.
Since you are here at Victoria University coordinating oil and gas training, are we going to see a new degree or diploma course introduced to add to these that are already existing?
My focus now is on these short courses to meet the training needs in the country but in the future, this is possible. The capacity to develop a training program is not hard. We had started a Bsc in Oil and Gas management, the draft is there. It is a matter of submitting it to National Council for Higher Education for consideration.
We are already offering certificate courses like Introduction To The Oil And Gas Industry Certificate, Certificate In Health, Safety And Environmental Management, Certificate In Oil And Gas Supply Chain And Logistics Management, Certificate In Oil And Gas Project Management and BSc in Oil and Gas Accounting.