By Benjamin Omoike
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday, announced the State Government’s willingness to partner with Aliko Dangote Foundation and Germany-based company, VDMA, for employment generation for Lagos youths.
The Governor also reiterated his administration’s commitment to partner with the private sector in order to empower and strengthen the teeming youths of the State.
He made the statement at the launch of the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) – VDMA (German Association for Mechanical and Plant Engineering) Technical Training Programme, held at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island in Lagos on Wednesday.
The ADF-VDMA Technical Training Programme is a partnership training by the Aliko Dangote Foundation and a Germany-based organisation, aimed at empowering young Nigerian youths with technical knowledge and skills in the areas of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.
Currently, 120 trainees are benefitting from the programme at the Dangote Academy in Obajana, Kogi State.
Governor Sanwo-Olu while stressing the importance of vocational skills training for youths, said Lagos State Government will collaborate with Aliko Dangote Foundation to replicate the ADF-VDMA Technical Training Programme centre in the State.
He said the initiative by Aliko Dangote Foundation and VDMA is a welcome addition to the capacity-building landscape, saying it is coming at a most appropriate time, a period that required urgent and ambitious solutions to the lingering national problems of unemployment and unemployability.
Governor Sanwo-Sanwo while commending Aliko Dangote Foundation for being a business empire, touching countless lives across several communities and states in Nigeria, urged the German counterpart to be a worthy partner by bringing this initiative to Lagos in the next six months.
The Governor said Lagos being the biggest economy in Africa has created a major unemployment gap, which makes it imperative for the State Government to upscale the youth in technical skills for a better and prosperous future of the State.
While reeling out achievements of his administration in the area of youth department, Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that six well equipped vocational skills centers are domiciled in Lagos, as more are expected to be created.
He said: “We are all witnesses to the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria, especially youth unemployment. While governments at the federal and state levels are doing a lot to tackle the scourge of unemployment, there is still room for much more to be done.
This technical training programme will create unprecedented skilling and employment opportunities for Nigerian youth between the ages of 16–24, who possess secondary school certificates and willingness to learn the theory and practice of mechanical, electrical, electronic and mechatronics engineering.
“This most laudable initiative aligns with our administration’s commitment to youth empowerment through vocational training and support. This is the major focus of our Employment Trust Fund, LSETF; the ongoing Graduate Internship Placement Programme (targeting thousands of unemployed graduates and early-career professionals); and several other catalytic initiatives of the Lagos State Government.”
Speaking at the event, the Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said vocational and technical skills are vital to the well-being of any economy, as key levers for growth, specifically in the manufacturing sector.
He said the aim behind ADF-VDMA initiative is for the greater benefits of Nigeria, by creating jobs for the teeming youth of the country, as well as addressing the significant skills gaps in Nigeria.
Dangote said the larger picture is to create pools of technicians, and engineers that will create the dream of industrializing Nigeria and the whole of Africa and therefore urged the participants to make use of the opportunity presented to them in shaping their lives and that of Nigeria.
He said: “This landmark programme 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.
“The trainees will be trained using these machines, so they can learn practical skills that will be transferable as they enter the work force. This programme is the first of its kind in Nigeria, and I am proud that we are doing this together with our committed partners.
“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.”
Also speaking, Kogi State Governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello, who was represented by his deputy, Chief Edward Onoja commended Dangote for empowering the youths with the technical training programme and for siting the Dangote Academy in his State.
He said Kogi State Government will continue to provide adequate security for the academy as well as making the State safe for investors.
The Past-President of VDMA, Dr. Reinhold Festge, said the skills being acquired through the technical training programme will prepare Nigerian youths for the future, adding that Nigeria industries will benefit directly from the partnership between the German organisation and Aliko Dangote Foundation.
Festge, who disclosed that about 30 German companies have provided state of the arts training equipment and supports for the project, said the Obajana Training Center will serve as a nucleus for initiating business activities in Nigeria market.