– In the dispatch center of Djibouti‘s Nagad Train Station, young Djiboutian Aisha was observing staff operations while paying close attention to the different colored dots and lines flashing on the screen.
As part of the first batch of students enrolled in the Djibouti Luban Workshop, Aisha along with her classmates were learning railway-related knowledge through an internship program at the Djibouti home station of the Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway. .
In a recent interview with , Aisha said that after three years of training, some 20 young Djiboutian students, including herself, will complete their course at the end of this year and become the first batch of graduates from the local Luban workshop.
In March 2019, the Djibouti Luban Workshop was established, a vocational training cooperation project jointly implemented by two vocational schools located in the north Chinese city of Tianjin, the Djibouti Industrial and Commercial Secondary School and the Construction Corporation. and Civil Engineering of China. The workshop was the first of its kind established in Africa.
With Djibouti’s transportation needs in mind, the Djibouti Luban Workshop offers specializations such as rail transportation operation and management in order to help build a local talent pool for the rail industry.
The workshop in Djibouti, as well as around a dozen others established in Africa over the years that offer different specializations and courses tailored to the needs of the workforce in various African countries, has epitomized growing skills development cooperation. between China and Africa.
PRODUCTIVE COOPERATION IN VOCATIONAL TRAINING
A report this year from the African Center for Economic Transformation, an Accra-based nonprofit think tank, showed that by 2030, the working-age population of sub-Saharan Africa is expected to reach 600 million, with Young people represent 37 percent of that population. number. However, he noted that African governments must address significant challenges to achieve the demographic dividend, including high youth unemployment due to poor quality education and a lack of infrastructure and inadequate equipment.
During the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Senegal a year ago, China announced nine cooperation programs that it planned to jointly implement with African countries over the next three years, one of them being the capacity-building program. . This program has been launched with the aim of boosting employment, especially for Africa’s huge youth population.
The Luban workshops, as part of China-Africa cooperation in this regard, linked Chinese and African vocational schools, helped upgrade facilities and provided cutting-edge technology and training for host countries. Through collaboration between Chinese and African governments, companies and schools, 12 workshops have been established so far in African countries such as South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya.
Different workshops may have different priorities. For example, in Djibouti, the Luban workshop focuses on developing railway operating talent, while in Ethiopia, the workshop aims to improve the teaching-learning process in the areas of mechatronics, robotics, and artificial intelligence.
In an effort to accelerate digital transformation in Africa, Chinese companies like Huawei have also been providing ICT training. Huawei this month launched a fund in Zambia to develop local innovation leaders, with plans to provide ICT training to 5,000 local youth and train at least 50 faculty and government officials in basic ICT skills by 2025. In Angola, Huawei also plans to train more than 10,000 local ICT employees in the next five years.
In Tanzania, a collaborative project with China was launched in June this year to boost vocational education through the development of new vocational standards in the East African nation. Adolf Rutayuga, executive secretary of Tanzania’s National Council for State Vocational and Technical Education and Training, said the project will help develop a large pool of talented and skilled workers, and ensure that vocational education graduates meet the needs of the international market. .
Under the capacity building program announced at the FOCAC meeting last November, Chinese companies operating in Africa are encouraged to provide at least 800,000 jobs to locals over the next few years.
According to a report published by Ernst & Young, China’s investments in the continent totaled US$70.6 billion between 2016 and 2020, creating more than 170,000 jobs, making it one of the top job creators in Africa. . Instead of bringing in workers from afar, Chinese companies in Africa are hiring more local labor.
Chinese business associations in African countries have also been active in recruiting local staff by organizing job fairs. In October, the Zimbabwe Chinese Business Chamber partnered with Stanbic Bank to hold a two-day job fair with 30 Chinese companies offering 757 jobs.
“We have learned that it is difficult for locals to find a job, especially for recent graduates. That is why we created the platform to bring together job seekers and employers, as well as organizations, to understand their needs and also to get to know each other. with each other,” said Shannel Liu, vice president of the chamber. Liu said the chamber’s businesses currently employ more than 100,000 locals.
Vimbai Chiza, Deputy Director of Employment Promotion and Services at Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, said the platform is in line with the government’s efforts to improve the livelihoods of ordinary citizens. “It is, therefore, complementary to the Government’s proposal to promote employment.”
In August, the China-Zimbabwe Exchange Center also held a two-day job fair to facilitate face-to-face interaction between job seekers and potential employers.
Meanwhile, in Zambia, organizations like the Zambia China Alumni Association (ZACOSA) are busy linking students graduating from Chinese universities with Chinese companies operating in Zambia. “As an association, since 2014 we have been instrumental in providing the link between Chinese companies and graduating students in China. I think in that area we would say we have been very successful,” said ZACOSA President Friday Mulenga.
According to the Chinese embassy in Zambia, there are more than 600 Chinese companies operating in the southern African country. ■