By Bampia Bundu
Addax Bioenergy Sierra Leone Limited has introduced the new Graduate Advancement Programme (GAP) for university students across the country.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with this paper on May 26 this year, the Project Development Officer, Mr. Ibrahim K.M Fornah, explained that because their company intends to stay here forever, there was need to promote more Sierra Leonean staff into senior positions, adding that they have established the Graduate Advancement Programme (GAP) to attach a young graduates to each of the major disciplines that underlie the successful running of the sugar cane estate and factory. He also stated that to help these graduates they will go through a combination of on-the- learning programme under the mentorship of an experienced Managers and continued academic support.
He revealed that ethanol production is an entirely new sector in Sierra Leone and that by investing in newly graduated, bright and enthusiastic young people, the company hopes to mould a strong national team who will possess a full understanding of the sector as well as effective management skills.
He maintained that the GAP will ultimately be absorbed into one of the functions of Rokel Training Institute (RTI), as the RTI will be responsible for Addax’s internal and external training opportunities and will provide a pivotal point for engagement in the future with the tertiary sector on developing academic courses that align more closely with the needs of the private sector. The GAP is an integral part of this engagement and the RTI will be responsible for recruitment and monitoring the programme and for organizing additional trainings for the trainees.
Mr. Fornah further explained that the GAP will run for three years and that over this time the trainees will be introduced to and involved in each component of their respective department, while the mentoring manager will be responsible for drawing up a comprehensive curriculum of aspects to be addressed during the training.
He disclosed that the first phase of the programme will be a period principally for exposure to bbnew working methodologies and output on the part of the graduates and it is likely to be minimal. However, in the second phase, he said, the trainee will take management of small projects and have increasing responsibility, while by the third phase, the trainee should be competent to manage large projects and be able to take up a position in the first level of management. He or she should be confident to contribute in high level meetings and take the initiative and creative approaches to problem solving.
Mr. Fornah revealed that in conjunction with the day to day training conducted in the workplace, the company will also provide training opportunities to the trainees with external institutions, for example, in part time management or project management courses with the University of Makeni. He also said that each Manager may also propose technical trainings that could be conducted by bringing experts into country (and may work on a consultancy basis with the whole team not just the GAP Trainees) or in some cases, sending the GAP trainees abroad to attend training with specialist institutions in order to support their professional development.
He also stated that the trainees will also be included in any in-house training, and in addition to normal induction courses, it will also include a First Line Supervisor training which will be a good introduction to the subject in the context of the company, and later First Line Manager training. He said the latter will also be for existing Addax staff at the relevant level and as such, the course is only partially charged to this programme.
He further assured that for engineer training, Addax Bioenergy will be looking to partner with the Sierra Leone Institute of Engineers to ensure that they recognize the programme, and in the future, it may be possible to replicate the model with other companies so that this and similar programmes become a core part of engineer training.
Mr. Fornah pointed out that in the case where the company is unable to absorb a trainee, they still have the advantage of having received thorough and good quality training with a reputable company over a period of three years. He concluded that it is hoped that through partnerships with other private sector companies, if there are trainees that Addax are unable to employ the company will be able to assist them in seeking alternative jobs.