From Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
The Aliko Dangote Foundation in partnership with the German Association for Mechanical and Plant Engineering and its Foundation for Young Talent in Mechanical Engineering (NWS) have officially launched a technical training program in Nigeria, in a bid to significantly address the skill deficit in all the key sectors of the nation’s economy.
Speaking at the official launching of the programme on Wednesday, the president of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote said that the landmark program is a Seven-million Euro investment, a large percentage of which is for the specialized, leading-edge equipment that has been shipped from Germany and installed in five workshops purpose-built for this program at Dangote Academy in Obajana. He also said the beneficiaries will be trained, using these machines, so they can learn practical skills that will be transferable as they enter the work force.
This program, according to him, 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 this program is seeking to address.
According to him: “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”
Germany’s minister for economic cooperation and development, Dr. Gerd muller, lauded the Aliko Dangote Foundation and VDMA for the enviable program that can transform and develop the economy of Nigeria. He said his ministry has supported the initiative with €3.6 million and will not hesitate to do more for the purpose of the initiatives to be achieved.
The VDMA past president, Dr Reinhold Fostge stated that “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 program 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”
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 this laudable programme.
He said: I am truly excited to be part of this epoch and nation changing event…for us in Lagos, I am happy to announce that we have six well maintained vocational training schools… but we are going to not just talk here today, 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 Dangote Foundation alone, we have to upscale our commitment.
“We wont 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 distance future, we can replicate and bring a full arm of the Dangote academy to Lagos State…we do not want government bureaucracy to stall this, if it is to raise finance that is required, I can assure you that Lagos state is ready to that and why are we making this commitment?
“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”
Congratulating the trainees, Dangote said: “I understand that we chose only 120 of you out of over 4,000 applicants. This means you are smart, you are the best and the brightest, we believe in you, and expect great things from you. I urge you to make use of this wonderful opportunity and become productive for the well-being of our country.”
He also promised that more youth will be admitted and very soon, all the six geo-political zones of the country will witness massive development through the scheme.