How solar technical trainings are up scaling the unemployed youth

What does Enlight Institute and Enabel Uganda have in common? Together they are making a difference by providing trainings to unemployed youth and certifying them to join the robust solar space industry.

As we enter the last quarter of the year, we in conjunction with Enabel Uganda embarked on providing skills to the unemployed youth in the northern and north western part of the country. First, we partnered with a livelihood actor called Kasese Youth Development Link (KYDL) through which the large pools of young people were gathered in the fastest way possible. KYDL is a registered community-based organization founded in Kasese in 2015 by a group of five technicians working in various technical fields. The founders encourage the youth (recent graduates from vocational training institutes looking to gain practical skills and experience) to join the CBO with the end goal of reducing the employment rate in the community.

Another party that aided in the success of the Kasese training is Enabel Uganda. Enabel Uganda is supporting the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in implementing the BTVET Strategic Plan – also referred to as Skilling Uganda Strategy under a 5 year-project - Support to Skilling Uganda (SSU). Its objective is to increase employability of youth through skills development that is market driven and competence based. The Skilling Strategy Uganda piloted a Skills Development Fund (SDF) in the regions of Rwenzori/Albertine, Karamoja and Northern Uganda. The interventions are funded by the European Union and Irish Aid but are implemented through Enabel Uganda.

Enlight Institute was developed to meet a demand for skilled and professional workforce at the last mile for the solar industry. We empower rural youth with skills, knowledge and work ready attitude required to be productive sales agents, technicians and managers and place graduates with solar companies. Thus, Enabel contracted Enlight to provide instant training in solar system installation and maintenance. The Training in Kasese took 16 days led by two experienced trainers who conducted trainings in basic electricity, solar energy, balance of system components, installation, maintenance and trouble shooting of stand-alone photovoltaic systems. The livelihood actors are given the training criteria guidelines to help in recruiting persons for the training with the help of the trainers. During the initial days of the training, trainees are requested to set out their expectations.

A pre-assessment is also carried out to acknowledge if the trainees have any prior level of solar. Trainees are taken through practical lessons using a drawing board on how solar works. The practical sessions include field visits to sites where trainees had a hands-on experience where they installed solar panels and had the opportunity to do maintenance, troubleshooting and cleaning of solar panels and batteries. After the training was complete, an assessment is done by DIT to judge how proficient the trainees are and if they are fit for employment as solar technicians and sales agents.

Although the training does not directly link participants to jobs, graduates will be certified as solar technicians, thus more attractive to employers. Participants learn how to conduct installations according to the occupational standards and get an insight into sales, interpersonal and planning skills - significant for both employment and freelance work. With this combination of skills graduates will be able to gain clients’ trust and thus increase their customer base.

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