Empowering Sierra Leone's Automotive Workforce through Capacity Building

In Sierra Leone, the ‘Promoting Youth Employment through Automotive Maintenance Skills Training’ project funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by UNIDO in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, is bridging the skills gap within the automotive repair and maintenance industry project. The project focuses on the establishment of a regional Center of Excellence for the provision of modern vocational training, to enhance employment prospects for youth, women, and disadvantaged groups.

Central to the project's strategy is the capacity building of management staff and instructors at the Government Technical Institute (GTI) Freetown Polytechnic. Technical instructors are essential for delivering the project's modern curriculum and play a crucial role in empowering a skilled automotive workforce in Sierra Leone.

This newsletter highlights how the instructors from GTI Freetown Polytechnic enhanced their expertise during a capacity building training, designed by UNIDO, that spanned five countries and covered 17 technical modules. We explore how the instructor's professional development promotes innovative teaching methods, enhances the quality of education and ensures students acquire industry-relevant skills to succeed in Sierra Leone's automotive industry.

Tailored Capacity Building Training 2023

In June, management staff and instructors from GTI Freetown Polytechnic, along with the Director of Sierra Leone's Ministry of Higher Education and the UNIDO project management team, traveled to Japan for Kaizen and 5S concepts training, held at the United Nations University in Tokyo. Rooted in Japanese philosophy, Kaizen focuses on waste reduction, heightened productivity, and continuous improvement. The 5S concepts - Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardise, and Sustain—complement Kaizen, offering a systematic approach to workplace efficiency. This training equipped participants with tools and knowledge to apply Kaizen and 5S at the GTI in Sierra Leone, fostering knowledge transfer to students, improving safety, productivity, and overall training quality. The training also provided insights into automotive workshop layout design and Japanese vocational schools, serving as a valuable reference for the GTI.

Electronics are integral to various car components, from lighting to ignition and transmission systems. This 18-day intensive training at Kigima in South Africa increased the skills and knowledge of the GTI instructors in Auto Electrical and Automotive Air Conditioning, and enhanced their ability to deliver hands-on technical training on these topics. From Auto Electrical basics, including wiring theory and practical workshops, to intermediate topics like Alternators and Starters, and advanced areas such as Electronic Ignition and Carman Diagnostic Scanning, the training aimed to bridge theory and practice.

At the Kigima training center, as we progressed from basic to advanced training, we discovered crucial aspects of electronics systems in vehicles that were previously unfamiliar to us. In the past, our approach was mostly trial and error, but now, equipped with a comprehensive understanding, we are able to work confidently within diverse vehicle's electrical systems.

Dauda Saio Bangura, Instructor, GTI Freetown Polytechnic

In this 5-day training at CICA Motors, the focus was on vehicle safety, measuring and hydraulic braking systems. Instructors learned how to enhance workshop safety, preventing accidents, and ensure the correct usage of hand tools and personal protective equipment. Training on braking systems, covering inspection and repair of components for both Front-Wheel Drive and Rear-Wheel Drive vehicles was provided. Additionally, the training gave an overview of new technologies, ensuring instructors are adept at delivering training aligned with the evolving landscape of automotive technology.

I learned different things that I have never learned in my country, like how to overhaul an engine and what are the steps to take before doing the overhauling and the measurement. I look forward to passing on this knowledge to my students.

Simeone Lissa, Instructor, GTI Freetown Polytechnic

Through this specialised 6-week programme at WAVA in Ghana, the GTI instructors gained expertise in Vehicle Dynamics, Diesel Injection, Engine Management, Drivetrain, and Electric Systems—a necessity in understanding modern automotive technologies. The state-of-the-art technical training included various vehicle manufacturers, fostering in-depth system knowledge and skills in using sophisticated diagnostics equipment. Certification to Bosch standards ensured instructors can deliver training aligned with industry standards and empower students with the skills required to successfully master the challenges of modern automotive technology.

The manner in which the facilitators handled and treated the topics were very professional and encouraging, creating an atmosphere where you will simply get hold of the concept about everything. Their exemplary approach has not only equipped me with a profound understanding but has also inspired me to implement these effective teaching techniques in my own classroom, ensuring a similarly enriching and supportive learning environment for my students.

Samuel Boss Koroma, Instructor, GTI Freetown Polytechnic

At the Toyota Academy in Kenya the instructors undertook a 22-day training covering Engine Systems, Overhaul, Suspension Technology, Steering Types, Security Systems and Body Electrical. Alongside technical skills, they honed their soft skills in communication, team work and leadership, and developed an entrepreneurship mindset. The training method involved a blend of theoretical and practical courses and assessments, enhancing the instructors' proficiency in delivering comprehensive training on these topics.

I acquired a lot of knowledge and skills that have improved my ability to repair and maintain different vehicles. I particularly liked the trainings that used state-of-the-art diagnostic testers. The lecturers and facilitators were very engaging and inspiring, especially Mrs. Eunice at Toyota Kenya Academy. She is the first automotive female technician to teach me on automotive technology. I really admire her.

Tamba Komba, Instructor, GTI Freetown Polytechnic

Training Feedback and Impact

UNIDO, the project implementing agency, has adopted a robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism for assessing the impact of the capacity building training. Tests were conducted before and after each training to measure the impact on the instructors' knowledge and skills. As outlined in the results below, the pre- and post-test results revealed a 42% averaged increase in the instructors' performance, emphasising the training's positive impact on their knowledge and skills, essential for delivering a demand-driven curriculum on modern vehicles. Additionally, satisfaction surveys were completed by the instructors to provide individual feedback to the training content, learning resources, and teaching quality. Participants were asked to assess 10 statements using a Likert scale, with response options ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The average satisfaction score was 4.6 out of 5, reflecting a 100% satisfaction rate with the training among the instructors.

This training programme has greatly improved the knowledge and skills of instructors at the GTI, who are now equipped with state-of-the-art expertise to prepare youth for the realities of the automotive workplace. This capacity building goes beyond a standard training of trainers initiative. It's a partnership and an investment in Sierra Leone's youth and in the future of the country's automotive industry.

Moses Sowa, Registrar, GTI Freetown Polytechnic

About the Project

The project ‘Promoting Youth Employment through Automotive Maintenance Skills Training’ aims to bridge the skills gap in the automotive repair and maintenance industry to unlock the potential of Sierra Leone’s youth. Funded by the Government of Japan, the project is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in close collaboration with the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MoTHE) and in coordination with key project stakeholders. The main objective of the project is to enhance the automotive and entrepreneurial skills of young people, thereby increasing their opportunities to find meaningful employment.