By Olatunji Saliu
Last month, some Nigerian youths were about to round off their mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program after graduation from local universities when a Chinese firm held a job fair inside their camp.
The job fair, which has now provided 50 of the fresh graduates their first jobs, was organized on April 12 by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria Limited.
It had established itself as a top international brand in Nigeria after more than 30 years of localization efforts.
Fredrick Okagwa, a fresh graduate of the Nigerian Law School, said he didn’t expect to have the opportunity at first, but it later turned out that he was selected after “a very tough but transparent process.”
“I sent my CV (curriculum vitae), and I was called for an interview. That was how I got the job,” Okagwa told Xinhua.
On Friday, barely a month after the job fair at the Abuja NYSC camp, he and 49 others were formally inducted as CCECC staff in Nigeria.
The induction ceremony was organized for the new local employees, by the CCECC management, after a short training introducing the goals and objectives of the construction firm in Nigeria.
The training was also to teach the new workers how to manage the Nigerian construction industry.
“I never thought I could get my first job so easily, let alone working for such a big company immediately after my mandatory NYSC program,” said Okagwa, who got a placement in CCECC’s legal department.
The objective of my department is to reduce the liability of the company, he noted.
“I intend to grow in the company to a senior managerial position, and also see how I can influence the company to consider Nigerians for reputable positions in times to come,” he said.
At least 2,000 fresh graduates of various disciplines had applied for jobs in CCECC following the job fair, said Li Jianhui, managing director of the Chinese construction firm.
“The management of CCECC is not only interested in engaging thousands of workers, we are talking about the localization of the management team,” Li said at the induction ceremony.
The Chinese firm has well over 20,000 local workers in Nigeria, handling mainly road, bridge, and railway projects.
Local employment has made a great contribution to the company’s rapid development in Africa’s most populous country.
Abu Joseph, one of the trainee staff who studied political science at the University of Abuja, told Xinhua he sees a bright and rewarding future in working for the Chinese firm, although he is new on the job.
“I am glad that I have been given this opportunity to serve. As an executive assistant, my position is going to help me inform the company on policies in Nigeria.
“I am very passionate about this company. I want to grow with it, and see the company as one of the strongest engineering construction firms in the world in the nearest future,” Joseph said.
Sharing their experiences so far, the young trainee staff said many instructors who spoke with them inside a CCECC camp in Idu, a new industrial area in Abuja, had taught them how to add value to the company through passion, loyalty, focus, and humility.
“I have just been given a platform toward realizing my dreams in life,” said Mary Chinanza Dimejesi, a graduate of English Language from the University of Nigeria in the southeastern city of Nsukka.
“The best way to give back to CCECC is to give hard work and show passion toward the company’s goals,” Dimejesi said, adding “this company has shown a great interest in the growth of Nigeria through its goal of localizing its management team.”
Some of the newly employed workers have already been posted to different states in Nigeria, to work on CCECC’s projects across the country.
Jonathan Obafemi Olopade, an engineering professor and Honorary President of CCECC’s Abuja Training School, told Xinhua he and his team will ensure a bright future for new and older staff of the company in Nigeria, as the Chinese construction firm had been providing a good platform for local workers who have the capacity and willingness to prove their abilities in various areas.
The Chinese firm regularly sent Nigerian employees with potential to China to receive training so they could catch up with the latest technology in the construction industry.
“This enhanced their sense of belonging to CCECC and many of them had risen from assistants to project managers,” Olopade added.