10 form four leavers graduate from Base titanium apprentice program in Kwale

Apprentices (Left and Centre) perform a task as their mentor (Right) looks on at Base Titanium's automobile workshop. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Kwale,KENYA: Ten recent form four leavers  selected from areas directly impacted by the Base Titanium Kwale mine have graduated after successfully completing a two year apprentice program.

The programme, which is the second one since its inception, targeted students who had ambitions to become qualified light vehicle mechanics.

Run in collaboration with the National Industrial Training Institute (“NITA”), the programme was designed to allow for maximum on the job practical experience so that the graduating students would be “job ready” for their next employer.

Speaking during the graduation event on Friday, Mr. Paul Thompson the Occupational Health, Safety and Training Manager at Base Titanium, noted that the programme bridges the known skills gaps in trade skill areas and enables industry players to access job ready talent.

“Such programmes will be key to enticing large-scale investors to the mining sector and will ultimately assist in Kenya’s economic transformation. What we need is more industry players to join us in our journey, giving Kenya’s youth access to real on the job training.” Said Mr.Thompson.

The first apprentice programme was launched in collaboration with the Technical University (TUM) of Mombasa in 2014.

The programme was run in collaboration with the National Industrial Training Institute (“NITA”) and targeted 20 recent form-four leavers.

In the three year Diploma programme, NITA designed and delivered the theoretical component through an intense, condensed classroom programme which was supplemented by direct practical application on the job.

The program successfully produced qualified electricians, boilermakers and heavy vehicle motor mechanics who graduated in April this year.

The twenty, while currently working on a short-term upgrade project at Base, are developing a business plan to set up a trade cooperative business to provide qualified domestic and commercial trade services on the coast.

According to Base Titanium, they changed the programme from a period of three years to two years, in order to increase the opportunities for more students to benefit from the apprentice program.

In his speech during the same event, NITA Director General Mr. Paul Kosgei, said that the program is part of a process geared towards embracing international best practices in the country’s industrial training system.

“The World Bank and NITA are in the process of implementing the Kenya Employment and Opportunities Project which has embraced the apprenticeship model towards achieving the goal of competent youth.” Said Mr. Kosgey

The Ministry of Mining envisages a growth target for the mining sector to contribute 10% to GDP by 2030.

Mining companies are expected to play a significant role in providing some of the key ingredients, including capacity building, to attract further large-scale investments in the mining sector to meet its targets.

Following the success of the first two programmes, Base and NITA signed a third Memorandum of Understanding that will see them mounting the third apprentice programme to commence in October 2017.

The programme will have 24 students pursuing a Mechanical, Automotive or Electrical craft certificate at NITA’s Mombasa campus.

The company has invested over sh. 16 million in its apprentice training programmes and believes the return on the investment has been threefold.