Technical training and work performance of water technicians: experiences at national water and sewerage corporation Uganda
Arinaitwe Tebekiza, Fredrick
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The purpose of the study was to establish how training in technical institutions prepares water technicians for task performance at the work place with National Water and Sewerage Corporation as the case study. This was prompted by the World Bank report and National Develop(Jlent Plan that VET graduates have limited skills to perform work tasks. In addition the observed malfunctioning of the water and sanitation facilities in our communities can partly be attributed to limited competencies by the water technicians. Moreover no studies had been done outlining the capacity of VET institutions to offer skills on case by case basis. The specific objectives were to: Identify tasks performed by water technicians at National Water and Sewerage Corporation and skill .requirement for each task; examine the capacity of training institutions to offer skills required for each job task in terms of tools, materials and equipment and teaching staff; and compare skill requirements with the training curriculum and identify gaps. The study was limited to institutions that train water technicians in Uganda and included Kyambogo University and Uganda technical colleges of Lira, Bushenyi and Kichwamba and National Water and Sewerage Corporation, the largest single employer of water technicians in Uganda. The study focused on availability of training equipment, tools, materials, teaching staff and curriculum. The target population at the work place was technicians and Engineers. The target population at training institutions was students, workshop technicians/heads of departments. The research design used was descriptive and instruments used included questionnaires, observation checklists, photographs, interview guides and documentary analysis guide. The validity of data was ensured by using different instruments on the same population while reliability was ensured by pre-testing the instruments on a sample target group. The quantitative data was analyzed by excel software to get frequencies, percentages and charts that guided the interpretation of results. Result indicated most technicians at the work place go through on job training for at least one year before being recruited by working under a skilled person. The training aims at mastering skills in surveying, plumbing, water quality testing and analysis, material testing and measurement; the skills that are required to carry out job tasks at the work place. This training is necessary to fill the gap in training at institutions as found out that most students have on average two practical hours per week out of twelve recommended by the curriculum. Modules like water quality testing are not practiced at all as none of the institutions had the relevant equipment. The curriculum lacked coverage of skills in customer care and marketing. It was therefore concluded that had the institutions been fully facilitated with tools and equipment, the instructors guided by the curriculum would fully guide quality training and the result would be technician graduates who efficiently provide water and sewerage services to the population at minimum training costs to the employers. The sampled workplace being the single largest employer of water technicians in Uganda, the results truly represent the practice of water technicians and their quality in the water sector in Uganda. It is recommended that instructors be assessed with the aim of building their capacity in addition to equipping workshops. The identified gaps in the curricula should also be addressed.