ArceloeMittal’s Training Academy: A Transformational Asset For Liberian Youth In Bassa, Nimba And Bong

0 355

Across Liberia, when it comes to finding a job and encouraging emerging professionals to excel in their new career path, making sure that graduates have the skills they need for the position that make essential their roles in society, opportunities are grossly limited. Youths who do not have the necessary skills quickly find themselves struggling in communities and some may soon start to lose hope and begin to feel uncertain about the future.

   Companies with the potential to hire Liberian youths with technical skills often feel frustrated, as they lose money and time, and consequently find themselves hiring foreigners because of low or inadequate skills set.

   But in the mining town of Yekepa, Nimba County, ArcelorMittal, the global steel and mining giant, is revolutionizing opportunities for acquiring technical and vocational skills, in order to advert this sad reality, with its internationally competitive three-year apprenticeship training program.

   The company’s state-of-the-arts vocational training center, at interval, recruits and trains new breed and unskilled young Liberians with no or Limited opportunities to entering the Liberian workforce.

   AML vocational facility is providing young people, especially those from Nimba, Grand Bassa  and Bong counties, with globally recognized and certified professional  training for roles such as diesel mechanics, electricians, mechanical fitters, etc.

   After an intensive recruitment process, the excited and anxious apprentices participate in the most innovative and well-structured vocational and technical program, facilitated by full academic and boarding scholarships: tuition, housing, three meals a day and a monthly stipend. This fully supported training model is intended to ensure that the students are fully committed to their studies and practice to ensure excellence.

    In the electrical workshop, Aaron Siahway, one of the beneficiaries hailing from Nimba County, told journalists on a reporting tour on Thursday  that he cannot measure his level of happiness for the opportunity afforded him by ArcelorMittal Liberia.

Electrical students

   Attired in orange reflectors laden jumpsuit,  protective hand and eye gears, he spoke bold that after the recruitment process he discovered that this is the most comfortable place to be, and that Arcelormittal is a blessing to Liberia.

Said Siahway, “I have been here free, comfortable, eat three times a day and they teach me very well, especially we do the things with hands, we see them practical and not just read. It is real all the time.”

   When asked how can you describe this opportunity given him and other, he said, “For me, it is a life-changing opportunity, and I can’t describe it any further because nothing like this I ever thought would have happened to me.”

   In the Diesel workshop, Eliezer Wilson narrated the story of how he was recruited, trained and is now employed as a trainer.

   “I come from Lofa County,” he introduced himself, and went further, “ArcelorMittal Vocational Training has completely changed my life.”

   “These kinds of opportunities don’t come too often,” he said, adding that most times “it is one in a lifetime that you see such opportunity.”

   Wilson said he feels proud to be associated with AML’s training program, and that nothing for him is more important than seeing himself as a young man impacting lives though the opportunity given him by the global steel giant.

   Globally, women are largely underrepresented in Science Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)-related fields, and Liberia is not an exception of this under-representation, which is especially prevalent in Africa where women represent less than 20% of the workforce in these fields.

   Regardless of this lack of representation in STEM-related work, there are few female engineers from across Liberia who have broken the status quo and stereotype to venture into engineering, especially with the strong policy of ArcelorMittal to minimize gender disparity in its workforce.

   In the Structural Pillar Welding session of AML Training Academy, we found a young woman recruited from Grand Bassa County standing out as the only female in that section. Interestingly, she finds herself in a department heavily involved with manufacturing equipment for ArcelorMittal mining operation. “I was schooling in Bassa when I overheard about the recruitment and I decided to apply,” said Ruthenia Topka.

Ruthenia Topka

   “When I was small I use to admire this work (welding). I use to go to the welding shop and sit there, and so I developed a passion for this job because it is creative. The more you do things, people admire you, praise you and like it a lot,” she told the reporters.

   She added that she has been taught how to draw, design and manufacture different parts of heavy and light-duty machines to be used up the mine. 

   “I thank ArcelorMittal Liberia for this opportunity because for us, women, when we get into this field we challenge men because the men believe that we are just supposed to be in the kitchen, but this training is helping us to change that,” she added.

   Tokpa has a big dream and she vows to keep pushing until she is a full-grown engineer with some technical knowledge from outside of Liberia.

   Among 15 men, Christine Dielin is also the only female in the “fitting workshop” section of the training academy.

   Here, they are involved with doing alignments, basic maintenance and producing of gearboxes and spare parts for other essential machines. Recruited from Thinway Town in Buchanan, Christine stands behind the alignment machine and tells the story of how she was a practicing journalist with Radio Jubilee in Buchanan but had to switch profession to engineering,  given how “life changing” the AML training is.

   For her, the basic way the Government of Liberia (GOL) can solve the problem of youth unemployment is to focus on vocation training opportunities, like the one offered by ArcelorMittal. She suggested that the Arcelormittal model can be used.

   “The Government of Liberia must follow a good example of what ArcelorMiottal is doing,” she explained. “We need to get young people, the zogoes, off the streets and provide this kind of training for them.”

   But unlike Christine and her friends, how many young Liberians will have access to such opportunity to enroll in a state-of-the-art academy with some of the finest instructors and facilitators drawn from Liberia and South Africa?

   The Manager of ArcelorMittal Technical Program, Dawie Loots, for his part, said this new TVET initiative supports the company’s sustainable development objective of identifying and grooming local talents for future employment at the company and to fast track Liberia’s economic development.

   The vocational education and training offered by AML, according to him, would affect phase two of the company’s expansion project and allow students to gain practical experience in their chosen career path before they even graduate.

   “The recruitment program is tough and the training is hard and we advertise quite broadly” and “students who finish those rigorous programs, have the credentials and training they need to get started right away in their chosen career path”

   Dawie Loots said, for a recruitment cycle, about 50 students are recruited, and that the first 45 recruits who were trained have all been employed by the ArcelorMittal Liberia. Loots expressed joy over the output of Liberian students and encouraged more females across the country to enroll.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Corona Update Liberia