Kenyan multinational Davis and Shirtliff is accepting applications for a training program tailored to bridge the growing deficit for qualified plumbers and technicians at a time when student enrollment at national Polytechnics has declined by 32 per cent, to 13,853, and at Technical, Industrial, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TIVET) institutions by 4.1 per cent, to 46,784 in 2012, according to reports.
The free six week program,targets plumbers and electricians with diplomas, has been developed by Davis and Shirtliff’s product specialists in its water and electricity division and has in the last 6 years trained 207 service providers at a cost of Sh8 million.
“The deficit in qualified plumbers and electricians is affecting the whole industry. While Davis and Shirtliff, has its own trained personnel serving the market, the reality is that we cannot reach all clients, thus the need for this program,” said Mr. Alec Davis, CEO Davis and Shirtliff Group.
Now there are only three national Polytechnics, namely Kisumu, Eldoret and the Kenya Technical Teachers College (KTTC), providing training in technical skills such as plumbing, electrical works, and masonry – following the upgrading of Kenya Polytechnic and Mombasa Polytechnic to technical universities. While the government has pledged to revive technical colleges and have at least one technical institute per county, employers such as Davis and Shirtliff have in the meantime stepped in to impart practical skills.
Service providers training program curriculum covers borehole installations, generator repair, swimming pool equipment, water pumps, and solar panel installations. Trainees are also taken through entrepreneurial and project management training to enable them to run their businesses.
“Our curriculum is very extensive, as it aims to equip our trainees with as many skills as they can pick up in the duration of the course,” said David Bolo, General Manager Service, Davis and Shirtliff.
Apart from the theoretical class, the fire offers practical sessions with their technicians in the workshop, where trainees get to learn to repair products that have been brought in. Trainees will go to the field and learn firsthand how installations are done.
Students send applications for the course to Davis and Shirtliff, which then shortlists candidates based on their skill set, ensuring they have a balance between plumbing and electrical trainees.
Isaac Kamau of Adroit Agencies, one of the beneficiaries of the program, was a trained electrician doing small electrician installations and refrigerator repair before joining the program in August 2007.
“I went through the program choosing to focus on pumps as my area of specialization, after which I started with solar water heating and pumps installation, and have now established myself in the pumps sector,” he said. “To date, I have done numerous jobs, am currently working on upgrading the water supply to Moyale town, providing equipment to 3 boreholes as well as installing a 75KW booster pump.”
On completion of the course, Davis and Shirtliff offers the trainees who want to specialize in certain segments, such as solar or boreholes, additional industrial attachments and access to D&S technicians to nurture their skills.
“To get them started, we offer credit facilities and additional credit to enable them to resell our products. Additionally, we give commissions when they refer clients,” said Mr. Bolo.
“This is much more than a training program. It is a lifetime mentor-ship program aimed at creating entrepreneurs and quality service providers,” said Mr. Davis.
Davis and Shirtliff is a Kenyan multinational, operating through a network of Kenyan branches and regional subsidiaries in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and DRC. Founded in Kenya in 1946, it is the leading supplier of water related and alternative energy equipment in East Africa.