Germans eager to impart engineering skills to locals

A German association hosted by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning says it is eager to impart skills to engineers in Botswana.

The association known as German Engineering Association or VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau), presented its skill initiative that it said is aimed at facilitating a smooth transition from apprenticeship to employment.

President of the association, Reinhold Festge stated they would like to support German companies that are already active in Africa.

He said these are the companies with concrete investment plans as well as their local partners, by providing sophisticated training for technical staff. “Our companies will intensify their activities in Botswana and other Southern African countries in the next few years,” he said.

According to Festge, the core of the initiative is a training concept that relies on long-term relationships with local training institutions and ensures qualified training for local workforce.

He added that the people trained will have a skill profile that meets the needs of the worldwide engineering industry.

Norbert Volker, Africa project manager for VDMA said they decided to engage with Botswana as it is a stable country and could become a hub for technical education for surrounding countries.

“We are looking forward to fruitful discussions with representatives from the Debswana’s Orapa Training Centre (OTC) to figure out potential cooperation models,” he said.

Volker, who is also from the association’s educational policy department, explained that although many African countries have pushed and diversified their economies over the last years, German companies are still reluctant with their investments.

He said lack of qualified technical personnel presents a main market barrier for many African countries.

He said with this skill initiative, the VDMA as the largest industry association in Europe is eager to create a win-win-situation for German companies and their African partners alike.

“Both sides should benefit from a high level of qualification of technicians who are able to install, operate, repair and maintain state-of-the- art tools and machines,” said Volker.

Apart from Botswana, the association has also chosen Kenya and Nigeria as project countries. The association explained that this choice resulted from strategic deliberations based on economic and geographical reasoning and the existing activities of German companies in these countries.

Lekwalo Mosienyane, president of the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) which recently rebranded to Business Botswana, stated that the country could not have found a better partner in Germany.

“Germany’s experience in producing technical skills has contributed immensely to its status as Europe’s number one economy,” he said.

Mosienyane added that across the world, German products are popular with both consumers and business users.  He expressed delight at having had the opportunity to share experience with what he described as “the very best” of German engineering and technical training.

He said this is good for the country as it embarks on the road to global competitiveness, wealth and job creation.

VDMA represents over 3,100 mostly medium-sized companies in the capital goods industry, making it the largest industry association in Europe.

The German mechanical engineering industry is an international leader – in 25 of 31 comparable subsectors, German firms are among the top three providers in the world and global market leader in as many as half.

Mechanical engineering is Germany’s biggest industrial employer with 1,003,000 workers (January 2015). It develops and produces key technologies for the global market. The export ratio is 76 percent. With revenue of EUR 212 billion (2014), it is one of the leading branches of industry in Germany.

VDMA’s membership covers the entire process chain – in the field of mechanical engineering including associated tools and components, of process, production, manufacturing, drive-train and automation engineering, office and information technology, software, and product-related services, from components to plants, from system suppliers and system integrators through to service providers.

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