Disqus
East Africa
EN ISO 6947
Ghana
Ghanaians
Industrial Area
International Institute of Welding
juakali
Kenya
Mechanical Engineering – 10 per cent
Monica
Monicas
Nairobi
Nigeria
Oil and Gas Technical Institute
South Africa
South African Institute of Welding
Tullow Oil
Welding
World Economic Forum Human Capital Report

Welding story that can boost skills in Kenya

Kenya boasts more than 845 accredited TVETs but much of the trainings do not meet global standards. For example, none of the 845 accredited TVETs offer specialised welding, which is hugely demanded in construction, infrastructure and even automobile (body work) sector.

Welding story that can boost skills in Kenya

During the construction of Standard Gauge Railway, it emerged that the Chinese contractor needed to import labour for welding because such skills were not available locally. This same scenario also played out when Tullow Oil pitched camp in Kenya. So, my curiosity led to try and understand how different this kind of welding is from the JuaKali artisan and my teacher of the day was Monica, a tutor at Oil and Gas Technical Institute located in Nairobi’s Industrial Area.Monica is a mechanical engineer who is specialised in welding.She has just returned from South Africa where she was training as a certified international welder accredited by the International Institute of Welding.

Only two institutions on the continent offer this accreditation, one in South Africa and the other in Nigeria, informing the Oil and Gas Technical Institute to partner with the South African Institute of Welding to exclusively offer international certification in welding in East Africa.First, one thing you can’t fail to notice is how unfriendly this field is to women. Before going to South Africa, Monica applied for admission at a local institution but was rejected because of her gender.The institution does not admit women and was advised to take a catering course in their sister institution because welding is a male-oriented job.Another pointer is that she was among the only 12 women out of a class of 120 students graduating in Mechanical Engineering – 10 per cent of the class.Despite all the industry hurdles, fate already had it that she would be among the few specialised welders in Kenya who will lead in developing local capacity in specialised welding for international accreditation. Meanwhile, many of her former engineering classmates drifted towards marketing.Second, to be honest, the one-day class on introduction to specialised welding was quite technical for my simple applied economics penchant.But to summarise how different specialised welders are from JuaKali artisans, the former develops the professional for interpreting codes given by engineering designers to deliver neat and consistent welds.There are several global standards that govern welding, but the two basic ones are the EN ISO 6947, which British, and ASME IX, the American standards, mostly used in the oil and gas sector.This, therefore, means that such thoroughbred skills can only be enhanced through a professional class.Within the petroleum sector alone, it is estimated that more than 60 per cent of employment opportunities require specialised skills and its shortage is one of the major obstacles to local participation.Kenya boasts more than 845 accredited TVETs but much of the trainings do not meet global standards.For example, none of the 845 accredited TVETs offer specialised welding, which is hugely demanded in construction, infrastructure and even automobile (body work) sector. Kenyan institutions only offer artisan welding.This means Kenya’s technical skills gaps are bigger than estimated. According to World Economic Forum Human Capital Report (2017), Kenya was placed at position 74 in the use of specialised skills.Since training and skills development is an expensive exercise that government can’t fully guarantee operators setting base, one of the options is to allow operators to deduct such costs as operating costs in the spirit of fulfilling the negotiated local content commitment.This is one of the capacity building strategies Ghana used when implementing the various local hire quotas negotiated, like 20 per cent of engineering designs in the petroleum sector be executed by Ghanaians, an incentive that gave Ghana a bigger room to create more Monicas.

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