By Theresa Moses
Nigeria’s construction industry is filled with vast opportunities that have the capacity not only for revenue generation, but also, to improve the quality of lives of the citizens. Yet, with these opportunities, the industry is saddled with the dearth of skilled manpower.
This is the view of Gbola Oba, Coordinator of one of Nigeria’s leading building and construction training institute, Universal Learn Direct Academia (ULDA) Limited.
Oba, who is a former UK diasporian, assembled the best of building and construction experts from UK, EU, Dubai, US and South African Diasporas to start one of Nigeria’s cutting-edge construction company, made the statement over the weekend during a free 1-day seminar organised by ULDA Limited for potential emigrants and their parents/guardians; women seeking trading opportunities in construction; gap year students: retirees seeking MSME life in construction in Lagos.
“There are opportunities for the quality of life of the people to be improved, which is why ULDA is translating skills to basic infrastructure in order to address the deficit in the construction industry, he said.
Oba observed that, the reason why the likes of Dubai are better is because they have lots of skilled and quality manpower.
Speaking on ‘Emigration Backup Job Plan’, Oba emphazied that “even if you planned going abroad for greener pastures, you need to have market ready skills that will make you relevant because the certificates you are bringing may not be useful to you. Learn to cook, very important; hair making, tiles laying etc if you even want to emigrate. You must have a skill set to make those who hate you smile at you”.
The Dean of Faculty, ULDA, Engr. Babatunde Faleye, said aside opportunities in Nigeria, there have been requests for skilled artisans from places like Dubai and Qatar.
“Skill is the greatest developmental aspect of any society. But my concern is that when graduates leave school, they are confused because there is no secured employment and the entrepreneurial environment in Nigeria is not favourable.
“Artisans oftentimes see themselves as lesser than the average professional. That’s why we introduced professional course upgrade” he said.
Speaking on Trading Opportunities for Women in Construction Industry, Mr. Yemi Oresanya, HOD, Domestic Plumbing said ULDA is at the forefront of removing the barriers in a male-dominated field by encouraging women to consider careers as welders, pipe fitters, carpentry, plumbing and other skilled professions in the construction industry.
“We are advocating diversity within the construction trades to encourage more girls and women to consider construction as a career option. The construction trade offers a wealth of career advantage to women in terms of high pay by selling building materials, plumbing materials, sands in bags, cement etc freedom, independence, career satisfaction, and opportunities for advancement”.
He further stated that as women gain experience, they can advance to leadership positions, such as trade school instructors, site supervisors, project managers among others.
“Most of the times women are performing tasks and they don’t even realize they are performing those tasks. Again, the construction trade is suited for women with a positive attitude, strong work ethic who aren’t afraid to get a little dirty and who enjoy seeing a project go from start to finish. Won’t you feel happy when you drive by a building later in life and say, I helped build that mansion?” He asked.
On his part, Chief (Engr.) Olawumi Gasper, who is a partner and former Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) and former Lagos Polytechnic rector, while speaking on Self Employment MSME Skills emphasized that: “We are using internationally experienced professionals to mentor trainees especially on engineering, which is a key programme to us and we are ready to ensure that Nigerian graduates are empowered and prepared for the building and construction industry.
“We want our unemployed youths to hone their skills early enough so that job opportunity will be available to them thereby helping Nigerian economy to maintain a competitive edge in an ever changing world and also ensure sustainable development growth as well”.
The CEO of Garutechnologies Nigeria Limited and Equipment Research Director, ULDA, who was recently appointed the General Manager to the ULDA sister company in Dubai, Al Muhtaraf Alsataa Technical Services (AATS), Alhaji Lukman Garu, presently in United States of America for an important auto exhibition via call said aside the opportunities in Nigeria, there have been requests for skilled artisans and facility management personnel from Dubai and Qatar.
“At ULDA, we are training a crop of skilled workforce who will be exposed to the best of modern engineering tools. The construction industry is growing without a commensurate growth in the capacity of competent skilled manpower” he said.
Engr. Afolabi-Babarinsa Olusegun Lewis, CEO BIOS Properties and ULDA Director Investment; encouraged both the young and old to be skillful and also engaged participants on body stretching exercises during the short break.
The Learn Direct Academia (ULDA) Limited, a consortium of professionals that facilitates skills training in vocations such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, brickwork, plastering, tiling, site engineering, among others, with the aim of training secondary school leavers, polytechnic and university graduates, as well as unemployed youths for the building and construction industry.