Buchanan ̶ On a bright school-day morning at the ArcelorMittal Liberia Training Academy (AMLTA) in Yekepa, apprentice Lydia Y. Gartei and her colleagues are busy putting their minds to work writing a test as part of their coursework.
Nearly eight weeks since their admission at the institution, Gartei and the other fifty (50) new apprentices are settling in well and keeping up with their studies. They are grateful to the management of ArcelorMittal Liberia for the opportunity to study at the AMLTA.
AMLTA is a US$7 million investment by ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) to provide improved technical education opportunities in several disciplines for young Liberians to enhance the workforce and promote economic development for a prosperous Liberia.
CEO of AML, Scott Lowe, said that the AMLTA is the cornerstone of the Company’s plans for the future.
“Training and developing a growing number of talented young Liberians in an expanding range of advanced skills is an essential part of the company’s strategy and Phase 2 expansion project. Approximately 97% of our current workforce are Liberians and we intend to grow this proportion into the future. This is a truly exciting time for AML and for Liberia,” Lowe emphasized.
According to a forecast by Liberia’s Ministry of Education, by 2030, there will be potential demand for 620,000 skilled workers in various industries, and Gartei and other graduates from the AMLTA are posed to fill this gap.
Gartei, who’s studying to become a mechanic and Janjay Zeon of the Fitting Department, are excited that their long-held dreams to acquire quality technical vocational education are being transformed into reality, thanks to a strong commitment to investing in people by ArcelorMittal Liberia.
In their first few weeks at AMLTA, the students are already making profound memories and are impressed by what they said is the quality of their training facilities and equipment, the professionalism of the trainers, and the high standards in place.
“I like the school and the environment. Since we started, I have observed that everything we learn, and practice is at international standards. This makes me feel very special and proud to be a student of the ArcelorMittal Liberia Training Academy,” a grateful Gartei explained.
Gartei’s story and her passion to obtain marketable technical skills that will help improve her life and that of her family is the reason why the AMLTA exists… to help develop the next generation of technocrats to drive Liberia’s industrialization and development through a fair merit-based admission process.
“My interest in the mechanics field is because I have passion for it, but unfortunately my parents do not have the financial support, so when I left high school, even though I wanted to further my study, there was no money. I started selling. I was anxiously excited when I learned the evaluation process for the next intake of students at the AMLTA and I put in all my best throughout the process and was accepted. I feel like I am on track to becoming a productive citizen in the future and I am really thankful to ArcelorMittal Liberia for that.”
Gartei’s positive AMLTA experience is similar to other young aspiring technocrats like Zeon, who believes the ArcelorMittal Liberia Training Academy is the best technical institution in Liberia.
“AMLTA is an institution with very high standards. What we are reading in textbooks, we can see the equipment, touch them, and practice with them. Back in high school, I was self-supported, and it was tough to even get a meal, but here, with the help of ArcelorMittal Liberia, I don’t have to worry about meals, a place to sleep, or anything. The only thing I must do is to study and pass,” Zeon said.
The admirable learning and training environment at the AMLTA is possible because of the extraordinary commitment and dedication of a team of instructors and administrators under the leadership of AMLTA Manager Dawie Loots.
Commenting on the adaptation of the latest batch of apprentices Loots said the new students have shown encouraging signs they are coping well but acknowledged that the coursework and environment can be challenging, especially in the first year.
Loots advised the new apprentices to take full responsibility for their own development by working hard and not falling behind in their studies.
Since its launch in 2018, the ArcelorMittal Liberia Training Academy (formerly the Vocational Training Center) has graduated its first batch of forty-five technical professionals and currently has a total of 103 apprentices enrolled, with additional five interns from the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, Margibi County.