(Business in Cameroon) - This year, Cameroon could have its first workers skilled in metal construction. For the first time, 13 trainees will sit for the certificate of qualification exam in that business line. Delivered by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, this certificate indicates that the holder is qualified for a clearly identified job.
The trainees will be presented by Igeaf Vocational Training Center, the first-ever metal construction vocational training center in the country. After it obtained its authorization, signed on May 2, 2019, from the Ministry of Labour and Vocation Training, the training center located at Emombo, in the 4th district of Yaoundé, opened its doors in October 2019.
The trainees, who all hold at least the primary school leaving certificate, take a 12-month course divided into 14 modules and taught by school teachers and professionals.
In accordance with article 19 of the law of July 11, 2018, governing vocational training in Cameroon, this training has both theoretical and practical parts. The theoretical teaching is constituted of a part dedicated to general knowledge and another one to knowledge specific to the vocation and is aimed at teaching metal construction competencies. The practical part whose aim is professional exploration is done via in-company placements.
Need for a skilled workforce
In that sense, Igeaf Vocational Training Center has an advantage since the center is located in a professional environment. Indeed, it is backed by Igeaf BTP Sarl, an SME created in 2011 and specialized in joinery trades (aluminium, metal, wood), civil engineering and general maintenance.
The SME is headed by Charles Olama, a thirty-something-year-old worker with 17 years experience in metal construction he learned on the job. From work placement to work placement, he moved through all the ladders: trainee, technician, shops’ head, work manager, technical director and now CEO of Igeaf BTP Sarl.
Everything started in 2003 when he was admitted as a trainee in his father’s shop. His father was trained by European expatriates in the ’70s. He opened Igeaf Vocational Training Center to end this somehow informal way of training.
”I realized that there was no technician really trained in metal construction. My wish has always been to have better technicians for better performance. Given that Cameroon is a vast construction site, a great number of professional technicians are needed to meet the demand,” the young CEO says.
According to the promoter’s forecast, for its second academic year, the vocational center should welcome a hundred trainees. “We can train such number [of people],” Charles Olama assures. “We have space and technical equipment necessary,” he adds.
However, if the trainees exceed that number, the center’s technical capacity would need to be enhanced, he reckons. Also, to better meet the demand for the training, the center also plans to open subsidiaries around the country.
Charles Olama and his two partners who claim to have already invested more than XAF50 million in the project, with their own resources, are calling for the state’s support. The law on vocational training in Cameroon indeed paves way for that possibility. “The state encourages vocational training by providing its support to research and establishment of support structures in new vocational training domains,” article 7, paragraph 2, of the said law stipulates.