MD Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter
By Our Reporter
The Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter, in Abuja on Friday, described it as a celebratory pride for the nation’s leading engineering construction company to participate in the great initiative to build and host the pioneer Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) artisanal skills development academy in Abuja the Federal Capital Territory.
According to Richter, the Academy building, when completed, will house two Carpentry training workshops of 348 m2 each; two Masonry training workshops of 348 m2 each; one Plumbing training workshop of 348 m2; one Welding training workshop of 348 m2; and ancillary facilities, such as offices, kitchen, first aid area and canteen.
The Managing Director said it was a great pleasure for him to be to be at the ground-breaking ceremony of the FOCI-JBNSkills Academy located at Julius Berger’s ONEX yard, where Julius Bergerhas commenced construction works for the academy’s school building.
Tracing the history of the academy, Dr. Richter said the idea has been in the making for several years. “The journey has been a long but fruitful one… and today, we mark the transformation of the idea – of an artisan academy to develop adequately skilled construction tradesmen and women – into reality via an academy building soon to house a world class dual vocational apprenticeship training program”, he said.Dr. Richter added that: “The academy’s goals are noble. The aim is to shore up the skills of the men and women of our industry in the areas of masonry, plumbing and carpentry. To provide well-designed programs of study in collaboration with expert partners, such as GIZ, and ultimately to improve the standards by which the entire industry is able to deliver works to our various clients”.
Richter who has since positively established an uncommon managerial reputation in the industry for seeking all feasible and productive means to work and preserve the jobs, careers and means of livelihood of workers even in the face of thenovel challenges and existential threat the construction industry encountered sequel to the advent and onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, said that the FOCI-JBNAcademy will not only improve the construction industry in Nigeria, but that it will also help “to advance the livelihood of those individuals working across various trades, advancing their skills and confidence for the benefit of their long-term careers”. With a manifestly passionate sense of professional commitment to excellence through premium grade engineering output, Richter further said: “Training, progress, high quality standards and the investment in people and process are all areas close to our hearts at Julius Berger”.
Richter, on behalf of Julius Bergerand member companies, thanked the Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI)for its continuous efforts to bring together the construction industry and champion the causes most important to the sector. FOCI’s efforts, he said, continues to give justification for member companies’ “investment in supporting the sustainable development of Nigeria’s construction industry”.
Dr. Richter also extended his appreciativethanks to the GIZ, a develomental initiative of the German Government, for their ongoing support to enhance the capacities of individuals and organizations in Nigeria. “The knowledge you (GIZ) bring to the Skills Academy for the implementation of the dual vocational system is invaluable, and we are grateful for your contributions towards making this project a reality”, said the Julius BergerMD.
Not one to ever forget his company’s priceless and highly valued personnel, Richter added and said: “I would also like to thank my colleagues at Julius Berger who have collaborated and shared their time and knowledge towards the success of this project and the greater improvement of our sector for all”.
Finally, with an optimistic forecast into a successful implementation of the FOCI-JBNSkills Academy Abuja, Richter hit a high note, saying: “We look forward to seeing the academy in full swing; and to coming together again, to celebrate the first graduating class of the Academy”.
The Hon. Minister of Works and Housing,Babatude Raji Fashola, SAN, who was ably represented by the Minister of Statein the Ministry, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, FNSE, highlighted that President Mohammadu Buhari aims for government to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by the year 2030, adding that the inauguration of a National Skills Development Council chaired by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, is meant to actualize that goal. He went ahead to say that the President Buhari administration places a great premium on every initiative aimed at raising construction experts and skilled artisans to meet the skills development goals of the government. To that extent, the Hon. Minister applauded Julius Bergerfor providing the Workshops and Equipment for the FOCI-JBNSkills Academy.
Also speaking at the event, the President ofFOCI, Engr. Nasiru Dantata,who proudly announced to the gathering that he started his engineering practice with his stint as a member of the National Youth Service Corpsat Julius Berger, called on the Government and all other stakeholders to support the strategic and visionary Skills Academy..
Other speakers at the event included the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment who was ably represented by his Special Adviser, Technical, Mrs Chinedu Dike; the Hon. Minister of Education well represented by the erudite Dr. Kudirat Ibiyemi Oladipo; and the Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Germany, Helmut Kulitz.
The Industrial Training Fund (ITF), the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB); and the Presswere also in attendance at the event. The National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture & Wood Workers (NUCECFWW) was also present at the event. The Sequa GIZ team was ably led to the ceremony by its Team Leader, Felix Nitz.
The Director-General of FOCI, Engr. Mrs Olubunmi O. Adekoje said the Academy aspires to offer new hope and better opportunities to Nigerian youths beyond just paper certifications.