Partnering with sobat

The School of Business & Applied Technology exists to maximise an opportunity and to fix an issue.

The opportunity is for Uganda to aspire to its potential and to contribute meaningfully to the global economy:  to generate export growth and turn its 60% trade deficit into a trade surplus.  To turn its 20% value-added exports to closer to the global average 70% value-added exports.

The key to this: Trade not Aid.   Most aid funds imports to Uganda, be it capital, products or services.  That’s not sustainable.  The kind of aid Uganda needs is aid that creates demand for exports from Uganda – this is sustainable.  And the key to this is business that can consistently and reliably meet that demand.

But the issue for business is a deficit in the right skills and character needed in managers and staff to compete effectively in a global economy.  The reason for this is a global phenomenon, which is particularly acute in Uganda: the disconnect between Academia and Industry.

Note these words from a recent newspaper article written by a friend:

 “The people of the lake share a beautiful cultureThe paradox we face is that while there are many vacancies for which skills are lacking, we are not short of people who are qualified in quixotic subjects. They just cant do a decent day’s work .. Having lost idiomatic skills of our ancestors that aided critical thinking, need we wonder that we have become square pegs in round holes” 

Source:  Samuel Sejjaaka , Country Team Leader at Abacus Business School. Article in Saturday Monitor Sept 2nd 2017

 Or look at this:

 “Business leaders frequently say there are jobs – just a lack of skilled talent to do them.  How can this be?... explanations..  the first that financial, human capital and infrastructure constraints have a negative impact on the range and quality of skills students graduate with. The second is the disconnect between what universities teach and the skills needed in the market….   A growing number of employers are no longer looking for the most impressive degree certificates … trailblazers like Ernst & Young have removed degree classifications from their entry requirements because they do not believe that academic success is always a sign of professional success..Employers are now looking for graduates who think for themselves, integrate into faced-paced work environments, learn new ways of working and develop creative solutions to real problems… we are at a unique moment in the history of education.. universities need to re-think their approach to learning if they are to produce people with the critical thinking, leadership, collaboration and problem solving skills for modern life ”

The Independent Magazine, Kampala . Sept 22-28 2017,  Article by Seth Trudeau and Keno Omu from African Leadership University entitled: “Unprepared graduates: Why we are at a unique moment where Africa’s university model requires a rethink”

This global disconnect phenomenon is based on two separate worlds of learning:  Academic Learning and Industry Learning.  Academic Learning, often funded by students, or student grants or loans, leads to qualifications, but often not practical skills.   Industry Learning, mostly funded by businesses, leads to more practical skills and productive businesses.   Industry would prefer to hire employees from Academia who already have those skills, because that would be much more efficient.  But for a whole host of historic reasons, that isn’t what Academia does?

So we have the two worlds of Academic Learning and Industry Learning, with different funding models, each with their own pros and cons, and relatively little connection between them.


Does it have to be one or the other?  Can we not somehow combine the two for mutual benefit?  A kind of Win-Win. 

 That is the basis of our partnerships, illustrated in the diagram below

We are proposing to work with businesses to provide:

Low-risk cost-effective recruitment  and /or fast up-skilling

In a nutshell, this is how it works:

  • Student works part-time (full-time in “holidays”) for partner as an apprentice, doing real work
  • We recruit students onto our programs in collaboration with partners – using commonly agreed criteria
  • Partners contribute to faculty with case studies and guest speakers
  • Student financing then looks as follows:
    • Year 1 – Student, grant or loan funded
    • Year 2 – Student fees covered by apprentice work
    • Year 3 – Student apprentice work pays double student fees, so student breaks even on 3-year program
    • The business partner gets a productive and reliable employee at lower than the normal cost to hire and train a new recruit -   with the added benefit that the student is able to draw on university resources for ideas and research to help solve business problems

 For more information on becoming a SoBAT Business Partner, contact us at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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