Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) is confronting a shortage of technicians in Sub-Saharan Africa with a Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) project to help support and modernize technical schools in Africa. Volvo CE will take a hands-on approach with a project at Selam Technical and Vocational College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, providing new equipment, training materials, teacher training, ongoing curriculum development and apprenticeship opportunities for students.

A lack of well-trained machine technicians is a serious problem in much of Africa and has meant that equipment dealers operating in countries like Ethiopia are often forced to hire expatriate technicians, rather than invest in local workers who would remain in the country permanently – and keep more money in the local economy. Developing a technical program will benefit OEMs like Volvo CE by providing a larger pool of skilled workers. Though students and apprentices won’t be under any obligation to work for Volvo CE, the project will provide Volvo CE a very powerful way of building relationships with potential employees.

The project, which will train about 30 students a year, is a first for Volvo CE in Africa, but a similar Volvo program that trains homeless teenagers in Brazil has had a great deal of success. If the new program works well, the company hopes to expand into other African countries in the future.