Alexandre Nzirorera graduated last year in Civil Engineering Construction Technology at Kigali Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC Kigali) but his desire for skills development pushed him to undertake online courses abroad for him to be at par with the construction market demands.
“The idea of starting Nziza Training Academy (NTA) emanated from the courses of Architecture Imagination I did with Harvard University and courses of Eco-design for Cities and Suburbs with British Colombia University,” said the founder and Managing Director of NTA, last Friday.
Nzirorera was speaking to the media in Kigali after the graduation of 71, including five women, who completed their courses at NTA in the second intake which started mid last year. Nziza Training Academy was established in October 2018 and graduated 12 people in its first intake last year.
“We are not like secondary schools, colleges or universities but an academy to upgrade skills of graduates from colleges and universities in the field of construction mainly in Civil Engineering and Architecture,” he said.
“We train construction professionals on using technology in their work. For instance, there is a topic on calculating the weight that a pillar of any structure will be able to resist but this weight can’t easily be calculated manually, it can even take a week or more time but with the technology this calculation is simple.”
Among the graduates, 28 are civil engineers who have completed courses in structural engineering and 43 architects who have completed in architecture. NTA admits civil engineering graduates with a diploma at least for structural engineering courses while in Architecture, NTA has class for secondary school graduates who did construction courses and another class for Architecture graduates from college or university.
Foreign experts intervene
Graduates who are usually employed in public and private institutions also benefited skills from two foreign experts who had been in Rwanda for the previous 10 days to offer training at NTA.
“We are also hiring foreign experts in these courses to train our students. In this intake, we had brought Ranandafeera Donatien Proces Odilas, an expert in ArchiCAD software at the Archystore Agency in Madagascar, and Eng. Osayanmon Osarenkhoe who represents Africa at Prota Group, a software company based in Turkey,” said Nzirorera.
Nzirorera said he conceived the idea of sharing skills with Rwandans after realizing that there is skills gap among the graduates in construction industry. He was also motivated by his success when he designed a project for tennis grounds in Kigali and was approved by the International Tennis Federation as the best in the East African region.
“That’s where I got this idea that if I beat other professionals who designed the same project, it was because there is a gap in the training that is being offered at the regional colleges and universities; that is, the training doesn’t meet the market demands. And then, I decided to start an academy to share the skills I have acquired with other professionals,” he said.
Nzirorera who also owns Golden Construction and Designing Ltd (GCD) said he meets many construction graduates on a daily basis and assesses their skills gap.
NTA is mainly challenged by lack of some tools such as a virtual reality tool for architecture that an expert trainer from Madagascar couldn’t find in Rwanda while the one he had carried with him couldn’t find here the internet speed it requires to function.
Another challenge is the mindset about the need for these skills but Nzirorera said that people are getting to understand it as witnessed by the increase of the number of 71 graduates compared to 12 in the first intake.
“We have embarked on a journey of raising awareness on the need for skills development because many people including some leaders of public and private institutions do not understand why we are training graduates; why a civil engineer should be trained in the same field but we hope they will understand the scope of our training over time,” he added.
Presiding over the graduation, Dr Alex Ruberwa, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Rwanda Polytechnic, commended NTA for its hand in equipping Rwandans with hands-on-skills which is a boost towards reducing unemployment rate.
“This is a commendable work that we encourage other people to follow suit. Schools do not offer all the necessary skills, that is why such training is important to meet the labour market demands. We thank Nziza Training Academy for upgrading our graduates’ skills to meet the technology advances,” he said, adding that NTA is a good partner of Rwanda Polytechnic which brings together eight colleges.
Nzirorera said the academy aims to open online training platform by next month to make it easier for people in Rwanda and the region to follow the courses.