In line with the Federal Government’s pledge to accord priority to technical education in Nigeria, the Aliko Dangote Foundation in partnership with Germany’s VDMA (the German Association for Mechanical and Plant Engineering) and its Foundation for Young Talent in Mechanical Engineering (NWS) recently launched a technical training programme to address the skills deficit in critical sectors of the economy
Recently, Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said the Federal Government would continue to accord priority to technical education. During the 6th Combined Convocation of the Federal College of Education (Technical) in Bichi, Kano State, the minister, represented by the Director, Colleges of Education, Onyeka Nwabuogo, described technical education as a major pillar in economic development. The minister said the federal government was passionate in its commitment to ensure that education took its rightful place in Nigeria.
Adamu said the government would continue to invest in the sector through approved capital allocation and training routed through the Universal Basic Education and Tertiary Education Trust Fund. He said the recent approval of six additional Colleges of Education across the six geopolitical zones of the country would bridge the gap in teacher education among other benefits.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in a 2020 report, revealed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate as at the second quarter of 2020 was 27.1% indicating that about 21,764,614 Nigerians remain unemployed. The data also revealed that the worst-hit are Nigerian youths with over 13.9 million currently unemployed. Youth between the ages 15-24 have about 6.8 million Nigerians out of jobs and another 7.1 million also unemployed.
Analysts are of the opinion that high youth unemployment rate is linked to increased insecurity and poverty, a situation, which can spiral out of control if not urgently addressed. The worrying increase in loss of jobs and resultant impact on crime due to the fallout of the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has also generated a cause for concern among various stakeholders including the private sector.
To significantly address the skill deficit in all the key sectors of the nation’s economy, the Aliko Dangote Foundation in partnership with Germany’s VDMA (the German Association for Mechanical and Plant Engineering) and its Foundation for Young Talent in Mechanical Engineering (NWS) have officially launched a technical training programme in Nigeria.
Speaking at the official launching of the programme in Lagos recently, the Chairman of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote said that the landmark programme is a seven-million Euros (€7m) investment, mainly for the specialised equipment shipped from Germany and installed in five workshops purpose-built for the programme at Dangote Academy in Obajana, Kogi State. He also said the beneficiaries would be trained, using these machines, so they can learn practical skills that will be transferable as they enter the work force.
According to Dangote, this programme is the first of its kind in Nigeria, and will be replicated in all the six geo-political zones of the country. Noting that vocational and technical skills are vital to the well-being of any economy, as key levers for growth, specifically in the manufacturing sector, Dangote said significant skills’ gaps exist in Nigeria, which is what the training programme is seeking to address. “The trainees that successfully pass through the full vocational training will be prepared as well-rounded professionals.
In addition to the technical training, they will also get personal effectiveness trainings of same quality as our staff.”
“At the Dangote Group, we have been providing vocational training for young Nigerians to hone their technical skills for a long time. We started our own Dangote Academy in 2009, based in our Obajana cement plant where we train over 2,000 technicians every year. These technicians have been deployed to some of our operations and to other companies outside our group. In some of our plants, we have recruited graduates of Engineering and other technology-based courses and trained them on many aspects of industrial operations through Dangote Academy.
“As a private sector entity, the programme is a crucial step in a larger vision of collaboration between Nigeria and Germany that we expect will lead to the exchange of knowledge, technology, and industrial capabilities. We also hope that this could lead to the deepening of the commercial relationship between our two countries. Today, we are reiterating our commitment to sustain this partnership arrangement and provide opportunities for scaling up the technical skills of our youths to help expand the skills’ base for the sustained growth of our nation’s economy,” Dangote added.
Germany’s Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Gerd Muller, lauded the Aliko Dangote Foundation and VDMA for the enviable programme that can transform and develop the economy of Nigeria. He said his ministry has supported the initiative with €3.6 million and would not hesitate to do more for the purpose of the initiatives to be achieved.
The VDMA past president, Dr. Reinhold Fostge said: “I am very happy that this has become reality eventually in Nigeria. We started six years ago. Four years ago, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Nigerian German training project. This programme is to raise the skill level of workers and make the youth employable …our vision in VDMA is that, in future, we should be able to exchange highly skilled professionals between Nigeria and Germany and as a matter of fact, I have no objection to inviting Nigerian specialists to help me in Germany and vice versa.”
The ADF-VDMA Technical Training Programme is a partnership between Aliko Dangote Foundation, VDMA and Nachwuchsstiftung Maschnenbaw – NWS (German training partner). The initiative arose from a shared vision of addressing the deficit in vocational skills required in the manufacturing sector in Nigeria. The main objective is to upskill the Nigerian youths in the area of Electrical and Mechanical Technology and to bridge the skills gap in the manufacturing and energy workforce.
The training programme is designed for the needs of the Nigerian industry and sustained by the expertise of German engineering. The training concept is based on dual-track vocational training that combines both theoretical and practical aspects of Mechanical, Electrical, Electronic, and Mechatronic. The ADF-VDMA Training programme is of two types – Advanced Training Short Courses, and Dual Vocational Training Full Trade (Long) Course.
The short courses are Electrical and Mechanical programmes. Duration is between 2-4 weeks. These include: Control and Maintenance of Machinery (2 weeks); Electrical Installation (4 weeks), Basic Mechanics and Fitter works (4 weeks), Electrical Machines (3 weeks), Welding and Brazing (3 weeks), Vulcanization (Industrial) – 2 weeks, and Advanced Measuring Techniques (3 weeks). The target audience include Industry Operatives and Supervisors.
The Dual Vocational Training Full Trade Course is an 18-month programme with a focus on Electrical and Mechanical disciplines. Exceptional trainees will proceed to an advanced industry Mechanics and Mechatronics program for an additional 12 months. A total of 120 candidates who have successfully gone through the selection process have commenced the programme in April 2021. The target audience include Secondary school certificate holders who are non-graduates, and those between the ages of 16-24 with interests in vocational training.
Meanwhile the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, enjoined both the Aliko Dangote Foundation and VDMA to consider citing the second training workshop in Lagos, with a promise to make funds available for the take-off of the programme.
He said, “I am truly excited to be part of this nation-changing event. For us in Lagos, I am happy to announce that we have six vocational training schools. But we are going to be making a public commitment that given what I have listened to now, we are not going to leave this to Aliko Dangote Foundation alone; we have to upscale our commitment.
“We won’t wait for him to replicate this in the six-geographical zones of the country. Lagos State will work with him and ask the VDMA what level of commitment is required from the state government…to ensure that in no distant future, we can replicate and bring a full arm of the Dangote academy to Lagos State.
“It is because of where we see Lagos… the amount of the teeming youth that we have in our country and our state. Lagos has continued to be the biggest economy in our country and even in Africa, and what this present to us is an opportunity to bridge that will help to significantly reduce the unemployment level in the state.”
The ADF-VDMA Technical training programme is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project fully sponsored by the partners with about €8,000,000 spent on the project. Some advantages of the Training Programme include: High standard facilities with modern equipment and learning tools; it combines Nigerian requirements with German expertise and technical know-how; benefit from NWS long-standing experience in industry-ready vocational training; exposure to industrial work experience in various plants of the Dangote Group and Industry Partners in Nigeria, and highly qualified and experienced technical instructors.
With the increasing need for Nigeria to fill the yawning gaps in her technical work-force, the launch of the VDMA training programme could not have come at a better time. Moreover, the most admirable aspect of this programme is that it is a win-win situation for all those involved, from the trainees to the trainers, from the partners to the governments of Nigeria and Germany. This is crucial for Nigeria’s unceasing quest for development.