International Partnerships

Job training was a new concept in Uganda, now it’s a priority in the tourism sector

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The VET Toolbox is supporting the work of the Tourism and Hospitality Sector Skills Council in Uganda. This is the story of the chairperson of the council, Herbert Byaruhanga.

Herbert Byaruhanga, was born in the countryside of Western Uganda just beside the Queen Elisabeth National Park. ‘My parents were peasants and had little money. I was going in and out of school depending on the money available. Life was not easy, but my parents wanted their children to have access to education,’ said Herbert.  

‘Thanks to my savings, I moved to Kampala to study tourism. My passion for tourism in general, and for birds in particular, has been part of me since I was a child. Uganda has wonderful nature to offer with one of the biggest varieties of birds in the world. Can you imagine how inspirational that is for someone passionate about nature?

Since my early childhood, my dream was to go to university and work in the tourism industry. My only chance to make it was to stay focussed and save money to continue to go to school and get skilled. Thanks to my motivation and my savings, I moved to Kampala when I finished college and studied tourism for three years. When I completed my degree, I came across a vacancy for a tourist guide driver for which I applied. It was a quite competitive selection process.

Herbert Byaruhanga
Herbert Byaruhanga, Chairperson of the Tourism Sector Skills Council in Uganda. Credit: EU/VET Toolox

I was part of the 12 selected candidates on 150 applicants getting trained for a whole month. At the end of the training, they selected four people: two on a temporary basis and two on a permanent basis. I was lucky enough to receive a permanent contract. That is how I joined the tourism industry in Uganda and made my dream come true. It took me some time to promote the importance of skilling people in my country, but it was worth it.’

‘The business potential of the tourism sector in Uganda is huge, but the sector is not yet structured enough to live up to its potential. That is why I decided to establish my own association of guides. I learned at university how to organise trainings and I started to organise my own training for Ugandans interested in becoming tourist guides. At that time, job training was a new concept in the country and there was no money from the Government to support it. I had to work very hard to get support from outside.

Credit: EU/VET Toolox

Thanks to the support of the European Union and other organisations, I managed to continue organising the job training programmes. After a few years, the Ugandan government realised that skills development in the tourism sector should be a priority as it brings a lot of income to Uganda and has the potential to create many jobs. In all these years I kept advocating for the importance of skilling people in the tourism sector in my country as I strongly believe in it.

With the support of the VET Toolbox, we have organised a 3-day training to make the tourism Sector Skills council more operational.’

‘I can say that we have come even closer to making the Tourism Sector Skills Council in Uganda operational. With the support of the VET Toolbox, we have organised a 3-day training to make an action plan and support the continuous establishment of a secretariat to handle the day-to-day business of the Tourism and Hospitality Sector Skills Council. Representatives from the private sector, ministries, trade unions, civil society organisations and VET trainers working in the sector of tourism and hospitality participated in the workshop that was facilitated by Enabel, with support of British Council, both implementing partners of the VET Toolbox. This is a very important step towards building sustainability for the future in the tourism sector in Uganda, now we need to continue.’

Visit the VET Toolbox website here.

Credit: EU/VET Toolox

VET Toolbox expanding services in Africa

The VET Toolbox is now helping identify the needed skills and support local training institutes to deliver the specific competences that the private sector requires. These services will thus enhance EU action to stimulate more private investment to create decent jobs in Africa.

The countries being covered are: Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda.

Find out more about the VET Toolbox

The VET Toolbox works with partner countries to strengthen their capacity to implement VET and labour market reforms, enhancing labour market relevance and employability for all. Visit the VET Toolbox website here and find out more about the work of the VET Toolbox which includes a nice video on what was achieved last year, here.