In Haut-Katanga Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the lack of qualified electricians is undermining the province’s economic development. With this in mind, Schneider Electric, a leader in Digital Transformation of energy management and automation, and the Society of Jesus in the DRC will help 500 local young people find work between 2018 and 2020 by creating two certified training courses for electricians. A total of 80% of these trainees will come from underprivileged families.
Boosting the Haut-Katanga economy
As Africa’s fourth most populated country, with a wealth of natural resources, DRC has experienced GDP growth of between 2 to 9% in recent years. Economic growth has been particularly strong in Haut-Katanga, the DRC’s industrial and mining centre, and the province’s capital Lubumbashi.
However, the DRC’s economy is being hampered by its lack of infrastructure and skills, which is undermining growth. In Haut-Katanga, the electricity sector is having to resort to foreign workers to meet its electrical equipment, installations and maintenance needs, impacting the province’s underprivileged populations.
A partnership to help underprivileged young people find work
Committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, Schneider Electric is particularly invested in SDG 7, or ensuring access to sustainable energy for all, as a prerequisite for child education, quality of life and economic development. In 2009, the company launched its Access to Energy programme with the objective of supporting vocational electrical training, in partnership with local organisations. Since then, the programme has helped more than 148,000 people in more than 45 countries. Moreover, between 2009 and 2020, Schneider Electric will have helped train 20,000 young people in 22 African countries with about 90 partners. In 2018 alone, 5,200 young people will be trained.
In DRC, Didier Chika, Access to Energy Business Development Manager, contacted Father Max Senker, Director of Mwapusukeni Technical College in Lubumbashi. This college, which is managed by the Society of Jesus, has offered vocational training courses including steel construction and car mechanics for young people between 18 and 25 since 2017. The majority of students are from poor families.
After studying market needs, the partners defined two training programs in the energy sector – Building Electricity and Solar Energy. “A partnership agreement signed at the end of 2017 between the Jesuits, Schneider Electric DRC and the Schneider Electric Foundation describes the courses, the duration of the training, the number of beneficiaries and the target audience,” said Chika.
“It also defines the commitments of each party.
“Given the region’s needs for qualified electricians, trainees are guaranteed job prospects.”
The aim is to enable 500 young people, including 80% from underprivileged families, to train as electricians from September 2018 to 2020.
Two certified programs for trainee electricians
The Building Electricity programme is designed to last a year (six months of classes and six months of experience in a company). This training will lead to a locally recognised vocational certificate. Meanwhile, the Solar Energy programme lasts four months and will take 80 students every year, including those that have completed the Building Electricity programme.
The quality of the programmes is partly due to the equipment provided by Schneider Electric, through the support of the Schneider Electric Foundation. This includes learning stations (booths in which students can make connections), solar panels, batteries and charge regulators. Schneider Electric is also contributing to instructor training. The instructors’ training modules are dispensed by a Schneider Electric Teacher, an employee that applied for the position on a volunteer basis and was selected for his or her technical skills in the relevant equipment.
The programme is designed to be replicated and adapted to the constraints of each region through ongoing development and improvement. For example, the solar module was developed by a professor from the Schneider Electric Paul-Louis Merlin School in Grenoble during a trip to Senegal with local technicians. Similarly, feedback from Tanzania highlighted a need for industrial maintenance, leading to the design and introduction of another module. All the training courses are presented in a catalogue organised by level of qualification, such as a vocational training certificate and a master’s certificate.