(Luanda) With seven children from his wife and another six fathered in distant provinces where he fought in the war, 54-year-old José Simão describes his life in the past as just "fighting and making babies”. In October he took a short masonry course at the Acreditar Luanda unit, which includes three classrooms, a laboratory and a library, and is located in Zango, one of the neighborhoods that is part of the Population Resettlement Program, a government initiative implemented by Odebrecht to relocate families displaced by urban redevelopment or unsafe housing.
Odebrecht is currently Angola's largest private employer, with some 20,000 workers hired directly. Ninety-three percent of its work force is made up of Angolans.
Odebrecht’s first work in Angola – the Capanda hydroelectric power plant – served “as a school to train an elite” group of technicians, who are currently holding senior positions in the government and in business, says Justino Amaro, the first Angolan to sit in Odebrecht Angola’s board of directors.
Training workers is an essential part of every project implemented by Odebrecht. As of mid 2012, 79,000 Angolans had benefited from the company’s training programmes. University student recruits receive special training and are groomed to occupy senior positions in the company.
In major projects, Odebrecht also offers technical training for the population living in the surrounding areas, preparing any interested young people – not just potential employees – for construction jobs. These technical courses are provided through the company’s Acreditar program, which so far has trained some 3,000 workers in its three Angola units.
Odebrecht’s corporate social responsibility actions, which include providing poor communities with running water, schools, electricity and recreational opportunities, bolster the cooperation-for-development image projected by the company through its construction activities.
This is especially valuable in Angola, a country that is still being built after 37 years of independent life, and which is undergoing a process of post-war reconstruction. (IPS News Agency)