By Dr. Norbert Völker
What does Norbert Völker find most fascinating about his role in Botswana, where everything is so different? He does not have to think long. "The Africans gave our German apprentices and trainers a warm welcome right away. The joint learning works without any problems and there is great appreciation on both sides." Völker leads the training project under the umbrella of VDMA’s "Skilled Workers for Africa" initiative. More than 8,000 kilometers from Germany, he is delighted to see how much both sides benefit in Botswana.
Training in control technology
Botswana, Namibia's eastern neighbor, needs qualified experts in mechanical engineering. They benefit both African industry and German companies in the country. One aspect of this German-African project is particularly important to Völker: "All the teaching is done by true professionals who come to the Training Center in Botswana straight from the German company. An exchange like this could not be more direct or closer to real-life practice."
Botswana is in urgent need of experts in order to drive the country’s economic development by creating value locally. The first students, including teachers from state education facilities, are now working hard in an advanced course on control technology.
The project is based on a contract between VDMA and the Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development in Botswana. Further courses are due to begin in fall 2018. To ensure they are a success, VDMA is relying on the involvement of its domestic members and the expertise of an experienced education services provider, Professional Training Solutions GmbH.
Participation in Nigeria
VDMA is also conducting its advanced training offensive in Nigeria. German specialists are training trainers, who in turn act as multipliers, sharing their technical expertise throughout the country. This is hugely welcome in a country in which almost 60 percent of its around 200 million people are younger than 30 years old. Many of them are technically gifted. A qualification like this gives them real career prospects and a chance to participate in the life of their home society.
The future trainers have just completed their first sessions at the training center in Obajana, a city located around 230 kilometers south-west of Abuja. The center is part of the Dangote Academy, which is implementing the project together with VDMA and Nachwuchsstiftung Maschinenbau, a foundation for promoting the training of young mechanical engineers.
The dedicated German trainers teach the Nigerians in short advanced courses for experts and in dual apprenticeships in mechanics, electronics and mechatronics.
There is something else that is very important to coordinator Völker, however: "Our commitment shows that a modern, professional apprenticeship really can have a focus on Africa and thus gives the continent’s young people a new orientation. This establishes the kind of long-term relationships with people and companies that are so important for a successful start on the continent."
Also convinced of these multi-faceted benefits, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is helping to fund the projects in the VDMA initiative.