The energy sector is one of the most integral parts of the Tanzanian economy, creating a total of 33,325 jobs and generating 6.9% of the country’s GDP. With technology continuing to shape the sector, it is clear that a talent pipeline must be developed to ensure strong future growth, both at home and internationally. Tanzania has a vibrant and growing youth population that can be harnessed in productive sectors such as manufacturing, construction and energy. In order to achieve this, opportunities for practical training should be provided to young people who qualify. Organisations such as Songas have been at the forefront identifying multiple opportunities through their apprenticeship programs to engage with and inspire the next generation to pursue a career in the energy sector.
The Songas Industrial Practical Training (IPT) was launched in2011 and took on board 113 applicants from different universities and fields ranging from Finance to Technical Engineering. The Human Resource Manager, Agatha Keenja who has spearheaded the growth of the program since inception, elaborated that, the program was strategically developed to ensure that the selected interns are equipped with necessary skills to become full-time employees at Songas. “The unique feature of our programme is that upon recruitment, the selected candidates go through a rigorous on the job training and after a few months on the program are treated like other full-time employees. They are entrusted with taking charge of their career paths with guidance and support from their line managers and senior management team.”
The IPT programme is one of the company’s continuous efforts in sustainability practices. “We have a strong corporate culture, which prides itself on developing people; it is a key cultural component for us to nurture and grow young talent,” adds Keenja.
To date, Songas has 20 interns who have become full-time employees, among them are: Stewart Peter, Raphael Bukene and Irene Machaku who were keen to share their experience and key learnings.
Stewart went through a series of jobs including working a teacher before landing an opportunity with Songas through the IPT program at 27 years of age. “Since childhood, I had an interest in technical subjects. Joining the IPT program was a dream come true and my interest grew into understanding how electrical energy is generated from renewable energy sources – I learned more than I had imagined. Over and above harnessing my technical skills, Songas has taught me the value of teamwork, leadership when executing tasks and the importance of valuing the ideas of each team member regardless of their rank or experience,” he says. At 34, Stewart is looking forward to taking on additional responsibilities that will contribute towards ensuring the availability of reliable and affordable electricity.
For Irene, the IPT program has given her an opportunity to learn more about how operations are run in the power sector. Joining at the age 22, a fresh graduate in finance and accounting, Irene was given room to explore and understand the operations of the company. “It’s been almost 2 years, I am overwhelmed by the wealth and depth of knowledge I have acquired. The energy sector has for a long time been looked at as a male-dominated field but I have managed to beat that stereotype through the IPT programme. I would like to encourage more young girls to explore the opportunities available in the energy sector.”
On his part, Raphael, a graduate in electrical engineering says, the internship program exposed him to managing large electrical projects and upgrading machinery needed to improve plant performance. “When I first joined Songas, my expectations were to gain working experience related to my field of expertise. But to my amazement, this opportunity gave me a platform to move beyond my skills, to the extent of managing large projects within the company”.
The success of the IPT program can be attributed to good management, supervision and the conducive working culture at Songas. Trainees have been fortunate to receive mentorship from the best in the industry which in turn has led to well-trained staff in the industry. Mentors cultivate a supportive working relationship with the graduate trainees, acting as a point of contact for any concerns that the trainees might have, as well as providing ongoing performance feedback
Through the IPT program, Songas is setting a path to nurturing talent and skills of young professionals that will change the future of Tanzania’s energy sector by providing reliable and affordable energy that will help to power industrialisation