ArcelorMittal Liberia’s VTC Prepares to Graduate First Intake after Completion of 3-year Studies

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Apprentice Jestina Weah of the Auto Mechanics Department of the ArcelorMittal Liberia VTC.

Yekepa─ What might have seemed like a long 3-year pursuit for life-changing technical vocational education and training for the first batch of students of the ArcelorMittal Liberia Vocational Training Center (VTC) in Yekepa is gradually coming to a rewarding end.

Forty-five (45) apprentices of the Vocational Training Center in Yekepa recently completed their final trade test in preparation for graduation soon.

A trade test is a test used to assess the proficiency and skill level of an individual in any number of skilled trades.

The forty-five potential VTC graduates were tested in the fields of electricity, auto mechanics, boiler making welding and plant fitting that they have been specializing in during their studies.

ArcelorMittal Liberia VTC Manager Dawie Loots said administering of the trade test is an important component of the 3-year theoretical and practical education the apprentices have acquired that is used to assess their specific technical and vocational skills and knowledge to determine their qualification for graduation.

According to Loots, the trade test was administered under strict guidelines to ensure independent performance from the apprentices and maintain a high standard.

“Due to the strictness attached to the test, only four apprentices are allowed per test… so by March 11, 2021, the trade test was completed,” the VTC manager explained.  

Loots said when the apprentices completed their training curriculum, he felt a sense of proud and readiness in the young Liberian technicians.

At the invitation of VTC Manager Dawie Loots, a team of monitors from the Ministry of Education (MOE) joined the VTC staff in Yekepa to administer and monitor the test.

The MOE team said they were impressed with the quality and independence of the trade test offered to the apprentices.

ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Chief Executive Officer Scott Lowe expressed confidence in the quality of technical vocational education and training provided to the soon-to-be graduates of the VTC and said he was optimistic they’ll be shinning stars in their respective technical fields.

“We are exceptionally proud of the young people who will be graduating from our VTC. ArcelorMittal Liberia has invested heavily for the future and built a training and education facility that is based on industry-leading practice. As part of our plans for the Phase 2 expansion project, we will be increasing the number of students at the VTC and also adding more advanced technology to the curriculum. This graduation represents a major milestone for the students and their families, for the company and for the country,” CEO Lowe highlighted. 

Apprentices working in a small group at the ArcelorMittal Liberia VTC to complete a task.

Over the last three years of their training at the VTC, the apprentices were exposed to state-of-the-art equipment, and have been taught by some of the best instructors and facilitators sourced in Liberia and around Africa.

As part of the 100% free enrollment at the VTC, the management of ArcelorMittal Liberia provides lodging feeding and medical care for the students during their time at the VTC and also offers them mandatory job-training opportunities at various worksites of the company.

Senior apprentices Victor Karr, Jr. and Tamba M. Davies who sat the trade test expressed appreciation to the management of ArcelorMittal Liberia, the VTC administration and trainers for the knowledge imparted to them.

The apprentices said when they first entered the VTC, they were not knowledgeable in the technical field, but over the last three years, they have learned a lot and are now confident of passing the trade test to subsequently graduate. 

“When we came in at the VTC, we were empty and knew nothing about the technical field but today our lives have been transformed and we have been empowered. With my skill as an auto mechanic, I am confident that I get a job or even work in my own garage,” explained Tamba M. Davies, senior apprentice at the VTC.

Launched in 2018, the ArcelorMittal Liberia Vocational Training Center (VTC) in Yekepa, is a US$7 million investment by the company to provide improved technical, educational opportunities in several disciplines for young Liberians to enhance the workforce and economic development for a prosperous Liberia.

According to a forecast by Liberia’s Ministry of Education, by 2020, there will be potential demand for 620,000 skilled workers in various industries.

ArcelorMittal Liberia is supporting the Government to bridge this gap by providing top-notch technical and vocational education training to Liberia’s youth, international advanced scholarships, internships, support to technical institutions amongst other interventions.

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