The first intake of students is now set to graduate from the vocational training program for technicians arranged by Volvo in collaboration with the Swedish International Development Cooperation (Sida) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Ethiopia. When the students receive their diplomas following three years of study, they will represent highly sought-after skilled labor in a country with a shortage of vehicle technicians.
Ethiopia is a country with booming infrastructure and civil engineering industries. Vehicle technicians are in high demand and the local schools are unable to train students at a sufficient rate. For the Volvo Group, which sells construction equipment and trucks in Ethiopia, the shortage of technicians and operators is an obstacle for its business. Volvo’s dealers in the countries are finding it difficult to find personnel with the right training to maintain and service their vehicles.
In collaboration with Sida and UNIDO, Volvo thus initiated a new vehicle technician program at the Selam Technical College in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa in 2013. Volvo is providing the equipment and machinery as well as the teacher training and curriculum. Many of the vocational training programs in the country primarily lack modern machinery, vehicles and components.
“For Volvo, this investment ensures us access to the expertise that we require to grow in the Ethiopia. In parallel, the students who have completed the vehicle technician program gain a better opportunity to support themselves and contribute to the country’s growth. By educating a local workforce, we generate value for both our business and for the community in which the Volvo Group operates,” says Niklas Gustafsson, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Volvo Group.
During the three-year program, students receive training in work ethics, theory and practical work. The ambition is that the school will help satisfy the country’s requirements for technicians and that the program will have a positive effect on the local economy, while the students themselves will also gain a brighter future.
The vocational training program in Addis Ababa is a pilot project that the Volvo Group, through Volvo Construction Equipment, is arranging jointly with Sida, UNIDO and Selam Technical College.
Using this as a template, the Volvo Group intends to establish similar training programs for technicians and operators of trucks, buses and construction equipment in 10 African countries, including Zambia and Morocco. In collaboration with national education authorities, Volvo, Sida and the United States Agency for International Development, USAID will develop and fund the programs based on the local skills requirements. The programs will be arranged in countries that are strategically important in commercial terms for the Volvo Group, while also being consistent with Sida and USAID’s strategies for aid.
“This is a prime example of cooperation between a private and public operator. This model can be scaled up and be used in other sectors to create more employment opportunities,” says Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Director-General of Sida.