A multinational firm, Universal Learn Direct Academia Limited (ULDA), a consortium of professionals, who facilitate skills training in vocations, such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical installation, brickwork, plastering, tiling and site engineering, among others, is training school leavers, polytechnic and university graduates as well as unemployed youths for the building and construction industry in Dubai. DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Dubai as the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recorded some of the fastest growth in housing construction. But there is a lack of interest in construction work among youths in the Middle East. This has contributed to a dearth of labour with construction industry going through serious trouble attracting new hands. While there is no reason for the younger folk to lose interest in a job that is generally well-paid and does not require a college education, their indifference is exacerbating the labour shortage. The implication of this is fewer homes are being built, thus, hike in prices.
However, there is a level of professionalism required for construction work as an artisan, or tradesman in Dubai. This covers competence in building plans and specifications, methods of construction and materials management. But only a few local artisans possess this. To address this challenge, the Universal Learn Direct Academia Limited (ULDA), a consortium of professionals that facilitate skills training in vocations, such as carpentry; plumbing; electrical installation; brickwork; plastering; tiling and site engineering, among others, is training secondary school leavers, polytechnic and university graduates, as well as unemployed youths for the building and construction industry.
Its President, Gasper Olawumi, said the organisation is now training school leavers and graduates to transit into workforce in the construction trade. He added that he has seen enormous demand for trained construction workers, adding that the organisation was introduced to build up a core group of competent and experienced tradesmen and trade foremen in key construction trades to anchor and lead workforce, and thereby raise construction quality and productivity levels.
According to him, vocational skills training can lead to better jobs with higher pay for young people and opens the door to entrepreneurship.
He said foreign employers are clamoring for skilled artisans, adding that construction firms are having trouble finding qualified workers.
According to him, good jobs in skilled trades are going begging because students are almost being universally steered to bachelor’s degrees.
He explained that there are already more trade jobs such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, sheet-metal work and pipe-fitting, which pay more for skilled artisans.
The Co-ordinator, Mr. Gbola Oba, said people with career and technical educations are also more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials. He lamented that young people don’t seem to be getting the message.
Oba said the dearth of construction workers across the world has been well documented with the hope on immigrants as the industry has failed to replenish its ranks with newcomers despite the boom in the construction industry.
According to him, the ULDA runs a year programme to train Nigerians, who can be recruited to higher-paying construction jobs.
He said its training centre at NAHCO, New Airport Road, houses an array of one-of-a-kind learning facilities to provide experiential education as well as provide interactive training capabilities to building
According to him, the ULDA is looking forward to forging mutually beneficial collaborations, including partnerships with institutes and governments to train young graduates as artisans and technicians. The scope of the training covers the planning for the creation of residential or commercial properties, as well as structures, adding that the industry is vast and offers an assortment of career opportunities with varying degrees of training and education requirements.
The industry, he said, is a rapidly growing sector and there is vast scope of employment in it for Nigerians in areas such as architectural stonemasonry, bricklaying, carpentry, concrete construction work, electrical installations and wall and floor tiling in the Middle East and Europe.
In Dubai for instance, he said mason set 100 blocks a day. He said the ULDA has trained bricklayers, who can set up to 150 blocks a day.
As for the quality of the work, he said their artisans are at par with local ones in Dubai. To steer the industry towards raising productivity, Oba said the centre aimed to educate and raise the industry’s awareness and ownership on productivity improvements and manpower development.
Oba maintained that strong vocational education and training (VET) reform can open up the labour market for young people and reduce unemployment.
The Dean of the institution, Mr. Tunde Faleye said his organisation facilitates skills training in the main vocations of the building and construction industry, such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, brickwork, block work, plastering, tiling, site engineering, using internationally experienced professionals to mentor trainees.
According to him, artisans are tested on the specific trade knowledge and hand skills required for the individual trades. The skills requirements are continually reviewed and standards rose progressively to improve quality, productivity and safety. This is to ensure the relevance of skill sets and that young people are trained and certified according to international project requirements, quality standards and good site practices.