In demonstration of its commitment to reducing the growing manpower deficit, especially semi-skilled labour in the Nigerian manufacturing industry, Lafarge Africa Plc. recently graduated a new set of students from its technical and industrial training institute in Ewekoro, Ogun State.
The capacity development initiative is part of the company’s efforts to empower young school leavers with the prerequisite knowledge for industrial operations, as well as National Business and Technical Education Board (NABTEB) for possible admission into the Universities to further their studies.
Fidelia Osime, Organization & Human Resources Director, Lafarge Africa, noted that the technical apprentice programme is expedient, against the backdrop of the undue influx of semi-skilled workers from neighbouring African countries that have taken over industrial operations in many manufacturing firms in the country.
“We have designed the Cement Professional Technician Programme (CPTP) and Technical Apprentice Programme to adequately train youths in the cement manufacturing process. It is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative hinged on five pillars: health, safety, education, infrastructure as well as a clean environment. We believe that programmes like these will help to bridge the skills gap in the cement production industry,” Osime stated.
Speaking at the 2019 Graduation ceremony of the programme which held recently in Ewekoro, Ogun State, Femi Adekunle, Head, HR and Industrial Relations, disclosed that the increasing manpower deficit noticeable in the manufacturing industry in the country necessitated the idea behind the training programme. “It is an idea geared towards empowering science-oriented secondary school leavers in our host communities - first, to offer employment opportunities for them and second, to provide a platform for them to further their academics to the University level,” he said.
Commenting on the nature of the training programme, Adekunle explained, that the training programme, which started as an 18-month programme, has been upgraded to a 36-month scheme. He also disclosed that the programme now runs side by side with Cement Professional Technician Program (CPTP), with a wider selection coverage area and upgrading from non-residential to a full boarding system.
Speaking on behalf of the Federal Government, Stella Ogbuishi, Area Manager, Industrial Training Fund (ITF), stated that government would continue to support efforts such as these that are geared towards improving entrepreneurial skills and self-reliability of young Nigerians, who remain the bedrock of any economy that desires growth and development.
Folusho Samuel, Director of Projects, Nigerian Employers' Consultative Association (NECA), celebrated the initiative, revealing that some of the trainees have already received provisional job offers from multinational companies. She pledged that NECA would continue to work with the private sector in order to ensure that all the graduating technicians are fully engaged.
Lafarge Africa Plc, a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim, began the technical apprentice programme in 2012 with a view to empowering science-based secondary school leavers with industrial operations knowledge in a bid to support the economic growth and development of its host communities and Nigeria as a whole.