A mason goes on with construction work. (Photo: Fred Kibor/Standard)
Kenya is set to bridge the wide gap on shortage of skilled labour in the building and construction sector as more people graduate from the Housing Finance Foundation programme. The firm seeks to train 1 million artisans.
A total of 63 artisans have been awarded certificates after undergoing a maximum of eight weeks competency-based training in masonry, electrical installation and tiling. And 25 artisans were trained in electrical installation for six weeks, 20 on tiling and the remaining 19 underwent training in masonry.
HF Group Managing Director Frank Ireri said the foundation’s flagship project is focused on upgrading formal skills to thousands of artisans in the construction industry and will boost production of more quality buildings to the market.
“Over the last three years we have invested over Sh100 million in facilitating technical and vocational skills for our artisans, significantly adding into the building and construction industry more resources to address quality issues and tame incidences of poor structures in the country,” said Ireri.
The foundation was awarded Vision 2030 flagship status in 2013 and has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education. Last year, the foundation entered into a partnership agreement with the Kenya Association of Technical Training Institutions (KATTI) with a membership of more than 48 technical institutions.
In 2015, the country witnessed a thriving construction industry registering a growth of 13.6 per cent according to the Economic Survey 2016. Formal sector employment in the Building and Construction industry grew by 11.4 per cent in 2015, to stand at 148,000 up from 132,900 in 2014.
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Majority of these jobs were created in the private sector, the Survey noted. Training of the 63 artisans was done at the group’s property and investment subsidiary HFDI’s joint venture development – Richland Pointe site in Kamiti. Owing to its strategic position, the group, which undertakes housing projects in the country through HFDI, also acts as a go-between for the artisans and employment opportunities.
“We ensure that we do not leave it only at the training part, but walk with these artisans and link them to possible employers as well as introduce them to toolbox and working capital financing for those who are willing to start looking for jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities,” added Mr Ireri during the graduation ceremony.
HFC, the group’s banking subsidiary, provides loans to artisans to enable them acquire tools and working capital, which they can use for their work while paying back the loan at an affordable rate.
The training facilitated by the Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), was scheduled in such a way that the artisans worked on-site during the day and were trained in the evening for two hours during weekdays.
The artisans start off on the sites as casual labourers who are either unskilled or semi-skilled as they go through the course and after successful completion, they are recognised as fundis. This course boosts employability for the artisans.