Youth employment gains traction with solar energy

The global craze for renewable energy has offered jobless Nigerian youths alternative employment as solar energy panel installation gains ground. Sunday Ojeme reports

The long wait by Nigerians for the Federal Government to get its acts right as regards electricity has continued to unearth the ingenuity in Nigerians.

While some have capitalised on the unfortunate situation to become overnight importers of power generating sets, a few others are resorting to alternative and cheaper mean to get their businesses and life going.

Amid the various steps taken by each group is also the struggle by leaders across the world to cut down on dangerous gas emission by working hard to entrench renewable energy technology for power. In doing this, electricity powered by engineered solar panels has suddenly become the fad in Nigeria.

Power consumers, who can no longer bear with the failure of electricity distribution companies, have taken their fate in their hands either by relying on generators or having solar panels installed as an option.

The fad
The technology, which is spreading fast across the country, has suddenly become an alternative source of employment for youths. To beat idleness and search for elusive white collar jobs, more Nigerian youths are being trained on this technology that has suddenly taken the country by storm.

Apart from individual finding their way into training arenas to acquire the skill, private and government agencies as well as foreign developmental partners are working hard to get as many youths as possible trained on how to install solar panels.

Solar jobs have risen rapidly in the last decade. Training a prepared and skilled workforce that enables the solar industry to meet growing deployment demands is a high Priority for us. Our Institute will prepare a new generation of skilled human resource for the solar industry and mentor competent entrepreneurs to serve the market

According to Renewable Energy Technology Training Institute (RETTI), renewable energy has become the future of electricity just as research has shown the huge gap in the technical know-how of renewable energy engineers and handsmen.
“If Nigerians are trained on the basics of renewable energy technologies, it will fill that gap, promote environmental sustainability and improve the economy through creation of jobs.

“Through this institution we seek to empower Nigerians with the capacity to develop renewable energy technologies to meet the energy demands of Nigeria and to promote the industrial applications of renewable energy.

“This institute will equip interested individuals (students, graduates and working professionals) with the practical knowledge on how to develop a sustainable renewable energy product that will meet local demands in order to achieve energy conservation/efficiency and reduce Climate Change as entrepreneurs. The institute will also equip professionals with the expertise to serve as employees with notable companies in the area of energy efficiency, photovoltaic and biofuels.”

Training partnership
Besides the array of trainings in the past, Edo State Government under the Edo State Skills Development Agency (EdoJobs) in conjunction with the Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH or GIZ (a German development agency) took it higher early in the week by training  youths on the technology.

According to the details of the training, which spanned four weeks, the Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Professional Course included modules in BIPV, design, sales, installation, troubleshooting, operation and maintenance.

In the same vein, a leading solar energy solutions provider, Zola Electric, also organised a capacity building training for technicians on the installation of Zola Flex system as part of its renewed commitment to boost its after-sale delivery to customers.

The training programme, which was held over a two-day period in Lagos, saw participants being taking through a rigorous training exercise on technical and health, safety and environment issues that are in line with global best practices.

Speaking on the skill acquisition drive, Manager, PIND, Dr. Teslim Giwa, said the training programme was aimed at developing a workforce to support the solar PV industry, noting that it is targeted at youths, who don’t have the required skills for employment.

“The course is also focused on addressing some of the issues around migration within the region and country at large. Graduands from this course over the next four weeks will become entrepreneurs, distributors, service agents for solar technology or become business owners.

“We have laboratory set up here where the participants engage in practicals. We will have a trip to Appropriate Technology Enabled Developments (ATED) Center in Warri, established by PIND to manage projects and technology that can support economic development in the Niger Delta. We will also visit the solar farm at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE) to experience the real-life application of solar technology.”

On her part, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Job Creation and Skills Development, Mrs. Ukinebo Dare, said the training was an opportunity for youths to contribute to solving the energy crisis in the country and to also eke out a decent living.

“Edo State Governor is focused on ensuring people get power to run their businesses in the state. The target of the training is young people in Edo State and we want to expose them to employment opportunities. Our focus is to ensure we equip Edo youths with skills, knowledge and ensure they stand on their own to become entrepreneurs or get jobs,”

Zola Electric’s initiative
Also speaking at the presentation of certificates to participants, the Managing Director of Zola Electric Nigeria, Abdallah Khamis, explained that the installer training programme was designed to impact requisite technical skills set to technicians on the installation of Zola Flex System.

According to him, the training is aimed at providing a pool of well-trained technicians that would not only assist in offering after-sale services to customers on the product but also help to bridge the technical skill gap in Nigeria.

While speaking on the benefits, Khamis revealed that the programme has not only provided the necessary foundation for participants to develop a career in renewable energy sector but also afforded them the opportunity to be equipped with globally recognized certifications.

“There are numerous benefits that are attached to this training. One of them is the opportunity for the trainees to update their skills and see whether they can pursue a career in renewable energy sector. Apart from that, both the State and Federal Governments can also tap into this opportunity by partnering with Zola Electric Nigeria to train the army of youths who are less engaged. By so doing, we can help create jobs for them.

“In addition to the free technical training, the trainees would also be equipped with free certified world class personal protective equipment (PPE). With this in place, it thus means the trainees are in compliance with global HSE best practices”, he stated.

He, therefore, expressed the willingness on the part of Zola Electric Nigeria to collaborate with both the state and federal governments on the program stating that such partnership would help facilitate both direct and indirect jobs for the populace.

He noted that it was gratifying to note that the training has started yielding fruits as some of the participants are now being engaged on various projects which have made them self-reliant.

On his part, Head, Technical Operations, Zola Electric Nigeria, Olumide Ajayi, explained that the curricular has been designed to cover a wide range of areas that include operations of solar energy systems, installations, troubleshooting/faults resolution and efficiency applications.

“We believe that training technicians on the installation of this product will complement our superior product quality. That is why we have taken skill enhancement as an important part of our service delivery,” he added.

Last line
As more youths are getting engaged by acquiring skills rather than seeking white collar jobs, the onus now rests on the Federal Government to make the necessary incentives available and make the various training programmes easier for both the benefactors and beneficiaries.

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