Return of apprentice
Posted Monday, August 6 2012 at 01:00
When Oxon Obara and Michael Ndeti received the results of their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, they thought that their future was doomed.
First, they had not attained the minimum entry requirements for government sponsorship in a public university.
Second, their parents could not afford fees for private studies.
But thanks to an apprenticeship programme, the young men are laying the foundation of a promising career in automotive engineering.
Obara and Ndeti are among 15 trainees sponsored by CMC Motors for a three-year course in automotive engineering at Technology Development Centre (TDC) in Athi River.
The CMC sponsorship is worth Sh400,000 for each student.
The money caters for the trainee’s tuition fee, accommodation and meals, stationery, tools and equipment, examination fee, wages, and upkeep.
The two are some of the beneficiaries of apprenticeship programmes often not given much thought by young men and women and their parents.
“Most Kenyans are obsessed with university education and are unaware of the benefits that go with technical training. Apprenticeship meets specific needs of the industry and lays emphasis on practical skills,” says TDC principal William Kibiego.
In such schemes, companies sponsor potential employees for training. They are reimbursed by the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) in the Ministry of Labour.
Usually, the apprentices are full-time students when the college is in session and work for the sponsoring organisation during vacations.
Apprenticeship is governed by provisions in the Industrial Training Act. It is a way of nurturing promising youth into employment through specialised training by the interested employer.
Successful apprentices secure jobs in their respective companies.
Although apprenticeship is not a new concept, Mr Peter Maingi, the assistant director in charge technical department at DIT, suggests that it could do with campaigns to popularise it and public sensitisation on its importance is going on.
Apprenticeship involves three parties: the employer, DIT, and the apprentice.
The interested employer makes an application to DIT, which inspects the selected training facility and certifies it if it suits the training needs. The employer and the apprentice then sign a contract.
Usually, apprentices sit for proficiency examinations conducted by DIT. They are awarded a proficiency certificate at the end of the training.
Some employers first place trainees on probation for one more year before confirming them in employment.