The Daily Monitor wrote an article stating that the government under the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) is to start 78 vocational courses for O-Level students such as weaving, graphic design, decoration, ceramics among others. These courses fall under Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI). CCI refers to the creation, production, and distribution of goods and services that use creativity and intellectual capital as primary inputs. They include a set of knowledge base activities that produce tangible goods and intangible intellectual or artistic services with creative content, economic value and market objectives. CCI products and services range from publishing, music, film and design. Students will receive certification in line with the Uganda Vocational Qualification Frames (UVQF).
UNESCO has reported that CCI globally generates USD 2,250 billion and employs 30 million people worldwide indicating that this sector is key to economies. This is of great significance as CCI can not only allow one to ‘earn a living’ but also create sustainable income generation and businesses that will substantially impact the economy. CCI also employs more youth aged 15-20 years compared to any other age groups. Therefore, CCI should be highly regarded. More than 75% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30 with high levels of unemployment and, to combat this, the vocational studies initiative hopes to skill youths and provide channels for employment.
However, even with this recent declaration by the government, the sector has generally been overlooked. For example, there is a gap in research on the economic impact of CCI and the vocational sector in Uganda. This poses a challenge as to whether current technologies and structures being used are effective and how to strategically create a path for economic growth and sustainability. It also poses a challenge for stakeholders that could potentially invest in the sector. More needs to be done than only students having an option to study one vocational occupation. The sector needs to be streamlined so that institutions have quality equipment and trainers; training that fosters business acumen with finance, management, and strategic development in line with CCI; and funding opportunities that promote the sector and create linkages with global markets.
Nonetheless, the government taking this step to include vocational training in the curriculum is progressive. There is a company called MoTIV Creations Uganda, in partnership with The Innovation Village, delivering programs under the MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works initiative that is streamlining CCI and creating opportunities and solutions. MoTIV has five pillars that include: textile, wood and metal, media, kitchen and co-working space to upscale businesses for local and international markets. MoTIV has developed an accelerator program where brands are assisted with capital, design, product development, training, production, and business development support to create sustainable businesses. Additionally, in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, MoTIV developed and built a PPE factory to make face masks employing over 140 young individuals. The company also has an annual competition targeted to visual artists to come up with a concept for a mural. The winner gets cash and free studio space. This is one of the ways MoTIV supports the creative industry who are among the hardest hit by COVID-19.