Architect Abel Onomake, Director of IDEAS Partnership Sierra Leone Limited on Thursday 24th June 2021 informed the staff, administration and students of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCET) polytechnic that construction and infrastructure are the foundation of any country and disclosed plans to form a joint venture with the college to train students in technical/vocational education which he described as “an unchartered terrain.”
He made the statement at the public lecture organized by the college administration at the Great Hall of the Goderich campus in Freetown.
He informed that this August they would start training students as Architecture Draftsmen and Urban Town Planners at certificate level for a start to sanitize the industry in the country lamenting that the city is poorly planned, that it is better late than never as provision would be made for mature students who have worked in the industry for years to be trained reiterating that those on the job would be retrained hands on deck.
He furthered that the training of students in the sector would help reduce the pressure on government for employment as well as better help to plan the country stressing that discussions on the training have been going on with the college administration for the past six months.
Architect Abel Onomake recalled his discussions with the principal of the college, Dr. Philip Kanu about plans to design a course in architecture and other technical/vocational courses that would empower and prepare students for self-employment upon graduation underscoring that students would be sent for practical trainings in various companies and workshops, assured that those who excel would be employed, enlightened about the differences between engineering and construction that are closely linked with architecture and quantity surveying adding that the architect designs and passes it over to the quantity surveyor who then hands it over to the engineer and contractor who interprets and implements the plan.
According to Architect Abel Onomake, there are only 25 professional and registered architects and seven professional and registered quantity surveyors in Sierra Leone that is a big gap while there are 15 million engineers in the world of 7.5 billion people and disclosed plans to train and award students of the college certificates and degrees in Building Engineering, Quantity Surveying, Carpentry, Bricklaying, Electrical Installation and other technical and vocational skills that are in demand in the job market.
Architect Abel Onomake said after the civil war in Sierra Leone, he discovered that the key players in the sector were absent which he described as a “huge shortage”, that Sierra Leone does not produce Quantity Surveyors and Town Planners and assured that his firm has the manpower and expertise to train students.
He also urged engineering students to take up the challenge and close the gap of 2,675 engineers that are needed articulating that according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), every registered engineer needs 5 technicians to work with underscoring that the engineer recognizes the problem and designs the solution while the technician does or implement the actual work.
The guest speaker continued that the various technical/vocational courses would commence in August this year with intensive practical work underlining that technical/vocational training is the backbone of any country and assured that the courses would be streamlined to meet the requirements of students in various levels like certificate, diploma and degree reiterating that each skill would be certified.
He furthered revealed that they would collaborate with owners of workshops where students would do their practical work under strict daily supervision, informed that the entry requirements for the courses are four (4) passes in the West Africa Senior Examination Certificate in English Language and Mathematics in not more than two sittings to train students in courses like survey plan, design, building permit and how to prepare a building site for construction.
The principal of MMCET, Dr. Philip John Kanu, encouraged the students to strictly abide by the prevention measures of the COVID-19 pandemic that is real and ravaging the world adding that he would not like to see any of his students contacting the virus or getting sick and urged them to be disciplined students of the college that would make him proud. He also commended the college administration and lecturers for their dedication and commitment to duty