By Kingsley Adegboye
Lafarge Africa Plc, leading building solutions provider in Nigeria, recently launched the Cement Professionals Training Programme CPTP, for youths from the areas where its cement manufacturing plants are located as beneficiaries. The initiative is to address the dearth of artisans in the building and construction industry of the nation.
The target of CPTP is to train in the next 15 years, youths from Ogun, Gombe and Cross River States in mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, automation technology, cement manufacturing process and entrepreneurship. During the training programme, trainees will be rotated through all Lafarge plant locations in Nigeria.
The programme was borne out of the need for Lafarge to reposition its flagship technical training programme aimed at empowering youths in host communities, creating jobs and building critical skills.
The earlier version of CPTP developed in partnership with the Industrial Training Fund ITF, and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association NECA, was launched in 2012 with 12 trainees. By 2014, the number of trainees had increased. Those who took part were trained in automation, electrical and mechanical skills and were awarded diploma certificates after the 18-month programme.
Director of Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development, Mrs. Folashade Ambrose-Medebem at Lafarge, said by this programme, the company is contributing its quota to addressing the issue of untrained artisans and technicians in the housing and construction industry.
Mrs. Ambrose-Medebem added that “These youths that we are training eventually will become self-sufficient and are able to support the local economy. Most of the trainees are guaranteed jobs at Lafarge Africa Plc if they perform well.
“The objective of CPTP remains the same as the previous programme but the scope and coverage of the scheme has been expanded from the South West to include science-based young school leavers from North-East and South-South geo-political zones of Nigeria. For this initiative, Lafarge is not doing it alone. It is in partnership with the Industrial Training Fund ITF, the Nigeria Employers Consultative Assembly NECA, and the National Board for Technical Education NBTE. The certificates awarded after the programme is accredited by NBTE and valid for admission into Nigerian universities”, the director of Communications stated.
Mrs. Ambrose-Medebem who disclosed that youth unemployment is a major issue in Nigeria, pointed out that the rate of unemployment among Nigerians aged between 15 and 25 years was 25.2% in 2016, according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics NBS.
She said for young Nigerians who form the bulk of the population, securing a decent paying job is a difficult task, adding that the dwindling standards of education due to poor funding means a number of graduates from tertiary and technical institutions do not have the requisite skills for employment.
According to her, between 2008 and 2012, more than half of the youth population that were out of jobs had only attained primary education, maintaining that solutions from entrepreneurship to technical apprenticeship have been identified as an answer to the lingering problem of youth unemployment which hampers productivity and social harmony.
The Country Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge, Michel Puchercos said the programme is a national programme which is being carefully implemented to bring change in the society, disclosing that skills acquired through this programme will not only make these young men employable but impact positively on the host communities, as more companies are towing the Lafarge example. He said host communities will see a steep decline in youth restiveness as a result of the programme.
Commenting further on the programme, Mrs. Ambrose-Medebem said “What is more, the youths will also receive practical and theoretical training at Lafarge’s state-of-the-art centres and plants. The youths are being trained to imbibe the culture of safety first during the course of their programme.
“We want to conduct business at zero harm to people and at zero cost to life. If we’re good in safety then we’re good in business”. The emphasis on safety is indeed the culture of the LafargeHolcim Group, the world’s largest building materials company”, Mrs. Ambrose-Medebem noted.