An Enniscorthy company is looking to Africa as it seeks to expand its brief beyond Ireland. Chevron Training, based at the enterprise centre next to Enniscorthy Vocational College, has set up in partnership with Vacc Technical - a building services company in the Nigerian capital Lagos.
The link between Enniscorthy and Lagos was the idea of Irish honorary consul Connie Guilfoyle who works for Vacc. He was concerned that his firm has problems recruiting qualified tradespeople for its projects across the vast African country.
Chevron's response after he made contact was to send Derek Waters to Africa to carry out an assessment of training needs there. This led to a pilot project which has in turn produced a more substantial agreement. Now former FAS trainer Pat McDonnell from Kilmore Quay is in Nigeria taking 250 electrical apprentices under his wing.
The aspiring electricians have signed up for a three year course and they are just the start of a major vocational training initiative.
Chevron executive Karl Fitzpatrick confirmed last week that similar courses in plumbing and carpentry are due to follow late this year or early in 2014.
Vacc Technical is bidding to have a better standard of workmanship on its sites, allowing the firm to improve their efficiency and their profits. The company is now exploring the possibility of working with Chevron to provide yet more training courses.
The prospects in Africa are so good that Chevron is set to recruit a new financial controller to deal with the expansion. And Karl Fitzpatrick is optimistic that Pat McDonnell will soon not be the only Wexford person to find work in Nigeria under their auspices.
'We are trying to keep it as local as we can,' said the Chevron boss, who felt that Lagos has become a more attractive destination for skilled Wexford workers since the Irish economy took such a battering in recent years. He reported that his staff are well looked after by Vacc Technical who provide cars with drivers and other support.