UNIDO, Komatsu Sign US$1.6M for Youth Empowerment

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The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Komatsu Vocational Education Project in partnership with the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) last week signed a three year project to train young Liberians to operate the yellow machine.

The project, which was signed on Thursday under the title ‘Promoting Youth Employment by Supporting Technical and Vocational Education in Liberia,’ will support the development of human capital via quality technical and vocational training that will support the economic growth in the country, particularly in the areas of mining, agriculture, agro-forestry and construction.

Signing the agreement on behalf of UNIDO, Philippe Scholtes, Managing Director for Program Development and Technical Cooperation, thanked the Japanese government for the partnership to help empower Liberian youths.

Mr. Scholtes told the Japanese Ambassador and staff of BWI that the phase two project will be achieved by strengthening and building on the existing institutional capacity of Liberia’s vocational training system.

He further said that his institution will also strengthen the existing heavy equipment training at BWI that was established with the support of the government of Japan in 2013-2015, in partnership with Komatsu Limited.

He emphasized that the training will serve as a center of excellence where the core activities will be concentrated and delivered by UNIDO.

Kaoru Yoshimura, Japanese Ambassador to Liberia, expressed gratitude to UNIDO and BWI for the successful implementation of the first phase of the project.

He said report sent to them by their partners showed that 149 young talented Liberians were trained as heavy equipment operators, and are currently making positive impacts in their respective places of work.

“The success of the previous phase greatly delighted and motivated us to support this project, which we have signed into reality today,” the Ambassador indicated.

Under the new project, Ambassador Yoshimura said the quality of technical and vocational training would be improved.

He promised UNIDO that the existing training facilities would be upgraded and the acquisition of modern machineries and tools for training and further capacity building for instructors would be undertaken.

In total, 500 persons will directly benefit from the project, with an additional 2,000 potentially benefiting indirectly, he said.

Making special remarks, Harris F. Tarnue, principal of BWI, thanked the two partners for extending the project to train young Liberians. He said the training will greatly help the youth, as well as contribute to society.

“I always argue that one way to reduce poverty in our country is to provide employable skills for young people,” Tarnue said.

In a statement read on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister designate for International Cooperation & Economic Integration, Dehpue Zuo, thanked the government and people of Japan for their enormous contributions to Liberia’s recovery.

According to Minister Zuo, prior to the civil war, BWI was the center of attraction for vocational talents and skills that built the country. He said the current state of the physical structure and the environment on the campus portrays the devastating effect of the civil war.

“However, let me thank Mr. Tarnue and his team for the level of innovation and creativity that continues to blossom at the BWI,” he added.

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