There’s a lot of talk about “foreigners” taking oil jobs from the locals; people are bitter about oil companies shipping their own work force from all over the world except Uganda. But what is the truth behind these claims? Are Ugandans really getting unfairly sidelined or are we rightfully skipped over in favor of “better” workers?

The truth, painful as it may be is that Ugandans are rightfully getting side-stepped in favor of “better” workers. While society gets stuck in the ancient belief that the only learned person is the one who has been to a big, cool university with a huge heap of books and an unmatched articulation of operational theories, the rest of the world opens their eyes & arms to hands-on job specific training.

While we still believe that a masters’ degree in mechanical engineering should guarantee us a sleek job that pays us millions per month, we forget that for every 9 workers on an engineering project, only 1 engineer is required, the rest MUST be hands-on mechanics. We forget that on graduation day, there were hundreds of us awarded that same degree with no guarantee that job opportunities would multiply to accommodate us all. We forget that oil jobs have a global appeal & the companies that create these jobs have a certain standard they demand which isn’t readily available in these “cool” universities.

Earlier this year, a good number of young men & women with an intention of joining the oil & gas industry as welders enrolled for competence based assessment at St Peter’s vocational training school in hoima. It wasn’t just any ordinary assessment because much as local trainers were running it, the accreditors & the certification they received in of a global standard, approved by international oil affiliated bodies like city and guilds, American petroleum institute among others. This group stands the same if not better chance of joining these oil jobs with an advantage of being local talent i.e. they won’t need to learn local language or culture.

Internationally recognized certification gives you a better chance against skilled foreigners. It is proof that you are able to execute these technical tasks without compromising the oil companies’ standards & reputation.

Instead of playing victim & blaming foreigners for “taking your jobs,” find an internationally accredited center & start building your resume to match the requirements for oil jobs. Take personal initiative & responsibility to make yourself the kind of person these companies need. You are the pilot of your own ship.