By Onuwa Lucky Joseph
Thursday, 19th August, 2021, was graduation day for the 20 trainees that made up the second batch of the Nestle Technical Training Centre, Abaji in Abuja, FCT.
As would be expected, it was all gaiety, colours, buntings and joyous graduands alongside their relatives, friends and guests, everyone happy that this batch had been through the grueling 18 month programme and every one of the students had successfully graduated and become gainfully integrated into the Nigerian workforce courtesy of Nestlé.
Also present in their numbers were the Nestle people themselves, led by the Managing Director, Wassim ElHusseini, in company of the Country Human Resources Manager, Mr. Shakiru Lawal, the Corporate Communications Manager, Mrs. Victoria Uwadoka, the Abaji Factory Manager, Ayodele Ayeokere, and numerous others.
Since 2011, Nestlé Nigeria has invested in building technical skills in machining, mechanical fitting operations, electrical operations, instrumentation operations and automation at the Technical Training Centre located in Agbara. In 2017, the company set up the second Technical Training Centre in Abaji to reach those closest to the company’s operations with the 18-month multi-skilled, vocational training program which prepares the beneficiaries for the prestigious London City and Guilds technical certification. Over 120 students have benefitted from the program with over 90% of them directly employed by Nestlé Nigeria.
The big deal about this particular graduation was succinctly captured in the address of the Director General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Dr. Timothy Olawale who said that “Through the Technical Training Centre, and with the support of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), we will continue to expand to reach more youth in order to help reduce the burden of unemployment while creating a pipeline of skilled technicians for businesses and for the industry at large.”
The Nestlé MD as well alluded to this when he said the company was not training for its benefit only but for the national technical space so that qualified technicians would be readily available to fit into areas where they are needed in different other organisations not necessarily Nestlé. Plus, the young men and women, now fully kitted with technical skills can find their own way around even if they do decide to go the entrepreneurship route.
According to ElHusseini, “Nestlé Nigeria remains committed to equipping students with all the necessary technical skills to succeed in the world of work through the Technical Training program. We believe,” he emphasised, “that young people have a key role to play in building thriving, resilient communities. This is why we are passionate about helping our youth to build the capabilities and skills to find fulfilling jobs, or create their own businesses.”
But as Nestle cannot but talk up its much cherished ‘shared value’ concept in just about every interaction, ElHusseini revealed that “The technical training program is one of the ways Nestlé creates shared value in the communities where we operate. Together with our partners such as the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and Industrial Training Fund (ITF), we continue to build strong communities by improving livelihoods, thereby enhancing the quality of life for everyone today and for generations to come. So today, we are happy to note that 100% of the participants have completed the program successfully.”
It is important to not forget that this batch had its training under the strictures of lockdown and all the enforced Covid19 protocol which made studying quite difficult. But the studentship was full of highly motivated young people who were glad for the opportunity and who were happy to take it with both hands.
Highlight of the event was the announcement of the Overall Best Graduand, Joseph Blessing Adeola, who garnered 28 distinctions, a record with the City and Guilds of London franchise in Nigeria. The best Female Graduating Student, Chinda Chimburuoma was not far behind as she held her own strongly with 25 distinctions. A class of highly motivated folks, this one!
And having been well trained, the work now begins. While the current crop was 100% absorbed by Nestle, the first set was not like that. And subsequent sets won’t all be like that. But like the Corporate Communications Manager, Victoria Uwadoka said, the training is for to help secure a virile ecosystem of technical operatives that can keep Nigeria’s industrial sector humming and productive, whether they go solo or hitch up with a manufacturing or other corporate concerns.