In response to this big problem, our Directors and Strategic Partners came together to create a solution keenly focused on closing East Africa’s skills gap. With our fully-fitted facility, world-class equipment, and UK accredited Trainer Assessors, we are producing internationally qualified technicians ready to go to work on any infrastructure project, no matter what size, in East Africa or beyond. Let’s now meet our Directors and Strategic Partners:
Dr Anthony “Tony” Mitchell
Managing Director, People Positive East Africa
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: Well, I’ve had a passion for the Energy Sector since graduating from Oxford University in the 1970s, with a Doctorate in Chemistry. That passion took me to BP for 21 years, initially as a Research Scientist and then into BP’s Strategy and Business Development. In that capacity, I was responsible for developing high performance teams and, to help me with that, I used to engage People Positive TM (PP).
Q: What took you from BP to PP?
A: I was engaging PP in various BP projects, and enjoying the experience so much, that I decided to join the company! Of course, there were a few other things that also drove my decision: PP had been around since 1989, they’d worked with all the household names in Oil and Gas, they’d delivered training in more than 40 countries, and they wanted me to join at board level – so it wasn’t that difficult a decision really!
Q: What brought you to Kenya?
A: In 2005, I moved to Houston, Texas, to open People Positive Inc. From the start, PP has always been passionate about its CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and, in 2012, I saw an exciting opportunity to do some charitable work in Kenya, with New Life Home Trust, which PP Inc. happily funded. Why New Life? Well, some very good friends from the UK were now working there and invited me to provide annual leadership training to their 200 staff in their 4 baby rescue homes and medical centres.
Q: Why Welding?
A: On one of my trips to New Life in Kenya, I met Charles Njendu, who was already supplying products to the Energy Sector in East Africa, but he was really keen to add training services to his portfolio. As we talked and swapped ideas, one thing led to another, and People Positive East Africa (PPEA) was born. We quickly identified the technical skills gap in the region and committed to help close it, with our Welding Institute as the flagship project.
Q: What does the future look like for PPEA?
A: We’re here to bring back jobs to the East African people. In fact, we want to see East Africa become a net exporter of world-class technicians. How?
First, we’re going to increase the pool of world-class East African technicians through our UK Accredited Courses, which we’re offering right here in Nairobi. That will shrink the need to import foreign workers to work on East African projects.
Second, our UK Accredited technicians will be eminently employable – in fact we know they’ll be sought-after – not only in the local but also in the lucrative international market.
Operations Director, People Positive East Africa
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: After serving as a Diplomat in Moscow, I returned to Kenya and launched Broch International Limited. We supply technical equipment to the East African Energy Sector. When Oil and Gas were discovered in the region, I saw first-hand the frustration of the international drilling companies when they couldn’t find suitably qualified local technicians to work for them. That’s when I began to think about adding Technical Training Services to the Broch portfolio. Around that same time, I met Tony and, as they say, the rest is history …
Q: Okay, if that’s the history, tell us about the future.
A: Sure. As you know, we’ve started with Welding, but we have no intention of ending there. We plan, very quickly, to add other Internationally Recognized Technical Courses – such as Plumbing, Electrical Engineering, and Construction – to our offering.
But it’s not only the number of courses on offer that we want to increase, we also want to expand our geographical reach. We’ve begun here in Nairobi, but we’re looking to expand, as soon as possible, into other cities and countries within the East African region.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I was born and raised here in Kenya, went to College in Scotland, and then came back. I have spent most of my professional life in the Construction Industry, before “semi-retiring” in 2015.
Q: Why welding?
A: Well, over the years, I've seen artisan skills slowly deteriorate and this has had a very negative impact in the workplace. For instance, I interview a lot of people for a lot of jobs, and sometimes I ask the welder interviewees some of the most basic questions – and they simply cannot answer them. Yet they have "Certificates" and "Papers". Qualifications on paper mean nothing, if you lack the practical knowledge and skills required. In the “days of old”, learning was through apprenticeship. You learned from the master of the craft until you could do a job just as good. The current theoretical approach, with minimal practical learning, desperately needs to change. I'm passionate about re-teaching, up-scaling, and up-grading the artisans we currently have into world-class technicians. I'm tired of seeing skills and expertise slowly diluting in the workplace, and then seeing local technicians locked out of local jobs as a result.
Q: What brought you out of “semi-retirement”? What do you want to achieve with PPEA?
A: I want to be a part of bringing real experts from around the world to Kenya, to train and produce highly qualified welders and other technicians. I want to give back to my country, Kenya. I want to be a part of making our local artisans Quality Technicians who are in demand, not only in Kenya, but around the world as well.
Dundee and Angus College
International Manager, Dundee and Angus College
Q: Tell us a bit about Dundee and Angus College.
A: Very happy to do that. Dundee and Angus College was established in 1970. We are a Scottish college of further education and higher education. We employ 1,000 staff members to serve our 18,000 students. We have two campuses: the Kingsway Campus and the recently opened £48 million (KES 6 billion) Gardyne Campus. Our Engineering Department alone employs 50 staff, and our programmes lead to UK and internationally recognised qualifications including SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) National and Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs).
Q: Why East Africa?
A: Well, I’ve been on a number of trade missions with Scottish Development International (SDI), the Scottish Government’s international arm, including some to East Africa. Scotland is world-renowned for its Oil and Gas expertise. It’s recognised as a global training hub for the industry. We aim to capitalize on this reputation and maximize the significant opportunities for partnerships in East Africa for Scottish colleges.
Q: Why PPEA?
A: We met PPEA through Ian Ross of Scottish Development International, who recommended PPEA to us as one of their key East African Partners. A 9-month period of due diligence followed, led by Jim Stewart, our Head of Engineering, and myself. That process included a week-long in-country inspection of PPEA – its board and staff, its offices, its training facilities, its partners, and even some of the potential employers for its graduates. That visit ended with Charles Njendu, PPEA’s Operations Director, and myself signing a Partnership Agreement between our two organizations.
Q: Where do you see your partnership going?
A: In the first instance, PPEA will concentrate exclusively on courses in Design Welding and Fabrication, but very quickly we expect PPEA to add courses in Building & Construction Services. In fact, we intend to continue with this partnership until PPEA is a fully-fledged Dundee and Angus College international satellite learning centre.
Eastlands College of Technology
A Project of Strathmore Educational Trust
Project Manager, Eastlands College of Technology
Q: Tell us a bit about Eastlands College of Technology.
A: Eastlands College of Technology (ECT) is a project of Strathmore Educational Trust. We have been in the making since 2003, when the Informal Sector Business Institute (ISBI) was created to train micro-entrepreneurs on basic business skills. Over 5,000 people took part in these courses. Our passion is to equip our students with the technical and entrepreneurial skills they need to open the doors that lead into income-generating work, either in the formal or informal sectors.
Q: Why PPEA?
A: Here at Eastlands College of Technology, we seek to partner with companies and institutions that share our vision. In the beginning, we were only offering locally accredited technical courses, but now, through our partnership with PPEA, we can offer internationally recognized qualifications as well. From our very first discussions with PPEA, we immediately recognized in each other a mutual passion for opening doors into the world of work for those currently locked out, and particularly the young.
Q: What impact do you foresee your partnership making?
A: Both PPEA and ECT wholeheartedly endorse regional government strategies to alleviate poverty and grow the East African economy through better technical training. Both organizations are driven by the same idea: that if we can just keep on delivering highly qualified East African technicians into the regional workforce, then, over time, we will create a critical mass that will make societal transformation inevitable.
Tel: +254 780 499 454