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Minding the skills gap

Updated: 2015-05-22 09:19
By Hou Liqiang (China Daily Africa)

Chinese firm wants to leave training legacy in Kenya

A senior executive from China Road and Bridge Corporation, which is building a key railway project in Kenya, has promised to strengthen skill training among the company's Kenyan employees and leave the country with a group of highly qualified and skilled workers once the project is completed.

Shen Yushan, assistant general manager of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway Project, made the comment on May 19, when a skills contest was held in section No 8 of the project located at Machakos, a county near Nairobi.

 Minding the skills gap

A worker of China Road and Bridge Corporation demonstrates scaffold building at a skills contest in section No 8 of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway Project in Machakos, a county near Nairobi, on May 19. Hou Liqiang / China Daily

Shen said the purpose of holding the competition was to inspect the professional capacity of Kenyan employees and to strengthen the transfer of skills and communication between China and Kenya.

"We should do all we can to make half of our local employees on the project senior skilled workers after the project is completed, and leave a group of professional, high quality construction talent in Kenya."

More than 30 Kenyan workers, who performed well in the preliminary and intermediary rounds, participated in the final, which involved wall building, steel bar binding and scaffold construction. The top three teams were awarded up to 10,000 Kenyan shillings ($100) and other prizes.

"The establishment of a platform for sharing skills and knowledge is a key to realizing our common goal. While fulfilling their job responsibilities, the local workers can also learn valuable skills. That will help them contribute more to Kenya's development," he said.

There are about 120 Chinese employees in Section No 8, which is responsible for the construction of Nairobi South Railway Station. There are 699 Kenyan employees in the section, including 319 machinery operators, 10 foremen and 35 skilled workers.

Wang Mingjun, deputy manager and chairman of the labor union of Section No 8, said his section would continue to strengthen the skills of the employees to improve their practical operation skills and technology innovation abilities.

He said the section has been preparing a night school for the Kenyan employees and that it will soon start operating.

Construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, with a total distance of 472.25 kilometers, is scheduled to finish in 2017. The cost of the project is high, up to $3.8 billion, and the Import-Export Bank of China is offering 90 percent of the funding needed. The ambitious project is expected to promote economic growth in Kenya by 1.5 percent.


(China Daily Africa Weekly 05/22/2015 page3)

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