Skilled labour is the most important thing needed for economic growth, Hayle Barise Technical Development Center is out to address this matter; investors hope it succeeds
Several kilometres outside Mogadishu City, on the South-Eastern part of Benadiir region, lies Yaaqshiid district, where for the past two years, a vocational training center has been creating solutions to the one problem that worries most investors in Somalia; the need for skills.
Located on a rather quiet neighbourhood, Hayle Barise Vocational Training Center runs on the hum of heavy machinery, bustling groups of students, and a committed staff. Set up in what was formerly a workshop for making heavy vehicle bodies like truck bodies and other metal fabrications, the center promises a lot, and Somali investors are willing it to deliver.
The workshop was started in 1986 by Hayle Barise; a business man who owned the largest bus company in Somalia. In 1991, due to the civil strife, it ceased operations. The owner’s family went abroad, as did most Somalis at that time. Hayle Barise passed on in 2008.
In 2014, his sons began coming back to the country. The plan that the sons had was to rebuild the family business. Badre Hayle Abdi, currently the Chairman of Hayle Barise Group came back to Somalia first, he was followed the following year, in 2015, by his brother Abddirahim Hayle who is currently the General Manager of Hayle Barise Group of Companies. The two of them, brick by brick rebuilt the business that their father had set up, getting into the industrial sector, water piping and supply in Mogadishu, expanding their transport enterprise and opening up Hayle Barise Vocational Training Center.
“The first thing I noticed when I came back to the country was the glaring need for skills. Every sector in this country is inadequate in terms of skills.”Badre Hayle Abdi, Chairman of Hayle Barise Group
“It does not matter where you land; health, hotel industry, education or any other that you can pick, most of the people in those fields, who are Somalis, can barely meet the demand for their skill set. The country had and still has to rely on hiring foreign workers or foreign experts most of the time,” he says.
So in 2015, he decided to set up Hayle Barise Vocational Training Center, targeting 5 skill areas that he felt were in grim need of a boost.
“Our plan was to develop skills in areas of general mechanics, auto mechanics, building and construction, electronic, electric and solar energy, and entrepreneurship. So far, we are handling three of those skills, that is; general mechanic, electronic, electric and solar energy and building and construction.”
Those three areas are fully on course, with 12 instructors on site at the center in Yaaqshiid District. The students, handling six month long courses that run for 2 years as they seek their diploma certificates, are currently 150, but will increase to 410 by March 2018 when a fresh group of 110 enrols in January followed by another bunch of 150 in the said March.
Badre Hayle Abdi is clear about the purpose of the center; “Running the vocational center is costly. Very costly, but it is necessary that we develop these skills if we are to move forward. Our aim is to reduce the number of young men who have no skills and therefore increase their chances of gaining employment or fending for themselves through the skills that they will acquire from our center.”
And he is right about the cost of running the training center being high. Unlike a normal school where the equipment are laboratory beakers, and the investment needed include the setting up of a library or buying chalkboards, at the vocational training center, the investment goes to a whole other level. The machines used at the training center are industrial grade heavy machinery. The kind that cost millions of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars; they sit mutely at the warehouse-like workshop, stolid looking heavy engines bolted tight to the ground. These are machines capable of rolling metal, fabricating metal, rolling thick pipes etc.
He explains how the center is run, “We do our training in partnership with the Federal Government of Somalia and the international community. The donors help with the acquisition of training equipment and capacity building for the instructors. Hayle Barise Group shares the cost of the training and offers infrastructural support.” This, he says, somewhat eases the overall cost.
With 10% of the trainees being ladies, the grandaunts are expected to be fully skilled and ready for the market. They are expected to be experts in all forms of metal fabrication, all forms of welding, general wiring, electronic components repair and maintenance, solar panel installation and maintenance, brick making and laying, concrete making and general construction among other jobs.
Currently under construction at the center is the biggest solar center in the country. Badre Hayle Abdi believes that the center will be the grounds for a solar excellence center and that it will be the biggest and most efficient generator of solar power in the whole of Somalia. He believes that the 12 hours of sunshine every day that the country experiences can be harvested into much needed power.
This appears to be the start of a great journey, and in five years, according to Badre Hayle Abdi, the vocational training center should be handle 2,000 students per center, and he hopes to open other branches in other parts of the country. And finally, he thinks there is a need for a research center, and he hopes to set up that too.