The Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers (SLIE) has as part of its objectives,
- Promoting and maintaining the unity, public usefulness, honour and interest of its members.
- Promoting sound Engineering Practice, Engineering Education in schools and Gender Participation in Engineering
- Advising Government on all Engineering Matters
With the resurgence of Sierra Leone’s mining sector in 2010 – 2013, the country experienced increased economic activity (not linked to aid-money) and GDP forecast for the year 2014 and 2015 were 11% and 13% respectively. With the increased economic activity came the opportunity for jobs for the average Sierra Leonean. In order to capitalize on this upturn and to use this as an opportunity to ensure that the average Sierra Leonean was able to compete locally with more skilled foreign workers, GoSL developed a Local Content Policy with the aim of utilizing the skills of foreign workers to train local staff and transfer knowledge and skills to their local staff. Unfortunately the anticipated trickledown effect never materialized and GoSL and other stakeholders such as SLIE and the Professional Engineers Registration Council (PERC) became increasingly frustrated by the uncontrolled mobilization and recruitment of foreign workers into this country. Sierra Leonean engineers, technicians and graduates were being excluded from opportunities in Sierra Leone as a result of a perception of inability to face the practical challenges of the industry due to their lack of adequate skills.
The GoSL realises that the inadequate training of our graduates is compounding the youth (un)employment problem and requires an urgent long term solution. As a “developing nation” GoSL recognises that its focus must be on sectors that contribute to the development of the country. Infrastructure, power and water are key engineering disciplines which play a central role in any country’s development and which, in Sierra Leone, there are few (and none in some cases) senior and much less still, graduate engineers who can fill these very necessary gaps. To address this shortfall it established the Skills Development Fund for engineering graduates and this was confirmed and ratified in the 2014 budget. Allocations were made to set up the Young Engineers’ Corps (YEC).
Through the Global Challenge Fund’s Africa Catalyst, SLIE/PERC has successfully secured £39,000 to run a pilot project “The development of a framework for a Young Engineers’ Corp in Sierra Leone”
The aim of the project is to develop a framework for the training of young graduate engineers that will enhance their employability and competitiveness in the international job market in collaboration with the University of Sierra Leone and local employers
The pilot project is being delivered in two (2) parts that are being implemented concurrently:
- Part 1 – Is aimed at developing the Young Engineers’ Corp for current graduates who are already in the job market and looking to improve their employability within the working environment
- Part 2 – Will look to enhance the current curriculum at the University of Sierra Leone to pedagogical approaches that will enhance the skillsets employers currently require when hiring graduates.
Twenty (20) young graduate engineers have been selected for this pilot programme and are currently at various companies completing their technical training after two weeks of soft skills training.
Ing Chaytor has been to visit two companies at sites where young engineers are being trained. She paid a visit first to the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA). At the EDSA Substation in Wilberforce, West of Freetown, Sierra Leone, a young female graduate named Ramatu Jalloh is undergoing technical training at a site where a new transformer is being installed and commissioned. In addition, she is also involved in supporting the team there in installing and commissioning switch gears for LV and HV. She has found the YEC programme very interesting and useful to her career. She has learnt a lot of practical things she only heard about in the classroom and takes initiative in learning new things.
Ing Chaytor later visited a construction workyard in Goderich, Freetown, Sierra Leone where a young graduate, Mohamed Koroma was learning about concrete mixes, surveying and soil sampling at CEMMATS, a Consultant firm engaged in supervising road construction around the West Peninsular area.