Following the dearth of unskilled labour in the built environment, the Lagos State Government has declared the need to create a platform through which artisans and workers in the building industry could be trained and retrained to acquire necessary skills and certification before being permitted to work in the state.

The State Commissioner for Housing, Prince Gbolahan Lawal made the declaration at the Adeyeni-Bero Auditorium, Secretariat, Alausa, during the Flag-Off ceremony of the Master Craftsman Project organized by the Ministry.

The Commissioner noted that the initiative would be undertaken in collaboration with relevant stakeholders in the industry with the aim of adding value to the state’s housing delivery programme, adding that the programme would also be flexible to accommodate artisans and workmen already in some form of employment.

According to him, “The Project is intended to expose our craftsmen and artisans in the building industry to the training needed to offer suitable services to the people. As you all know, this industry plays an important role in the economy of the State which, as of today, is said to be the fifth largest in Africa.”
“Under the programme, craftsmen may be attached to reputable building construction companies or assigned to the numerous housing projects of the state.”

While noting that the Ministry is working in conjunction with professional bodies and institutions in structuring and reviewing the training programme, Lawal emphasized that the state government will provide basic tools and equipment to the targeted 4000 trainees over a period of four years.

The Commissioner maintained that the project, which is in line with the Ambode led administration policy of inclusive government, is expected to enhance employability, improve productivity and stem the influx of foreign artisans and craftsmen into the country.

“As we commence the implementation of the Master craftsman Project today, it is our firm belief that the programme will take us back to the era when our workmen and artisans were among the best in the world. We shall be birthing a new culture of training and skill acquisition in our construction industry with this project”, he said.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Architect Foluso Dipe, outlined the focus of the project as a capacity-building and empowerment strategy to evolve a new breed of young and skillful artisans to replace the ageing and experienced hands.

He restated that the project is a collaborative effort with stakeholders in the construction industry towards making Lagos a hub of vibrant artisans to be exported globally.

In her remark, Mrs. Nike Ayanda, a representative of professionals in the building industry, applauded government’s concern in repositioning of the core artisans as an important group, but appealed for cooperation from beneficiaries while urging government to incorporate craftsmanship into the school’s curriculum.

According to her, “Artisans must train and retrain themselves as self-improvement is a lifelong exercise and a way to keep up with global advancements in block-making, concreting, carpentry, iron-bending, plumbing, roof making, electrical piping and painting”.