Case Studies

Chigozie, Get Into

30th May 2023

After two years looking for work, Chigozie has catapulted his career to a flying start. In less than 18 months, he has progressed from an unemployed graduate to a solar engineer, team leader and Coronation guest.

Chigozie (28) was visiting his parents when he heard he’d got an interview for our Get Into Renewable Energy programme. He packed and left for Lagos immediately. After a fifteen-hour bus journey across Nigeria, Chigozie made it in time for the interview that changed his life, soon propelling him into his first ever job, as an electrical engineer with a solar energy firm.

The Get Into programme enabled Chigozie to launch his career in renewable energy, and now he’s flying. He was promoted to team leader in under a year, and has since moved on to another role in the same industry, with a higher salary and more prospects. In May 2023, Chigozie was one of five young people who represented Prince’s Trust International at the Coronation of King Charles III in London.

‘To me, the Coronation is one of the biggest, highest, most respected ceremonial events in the world,’ he says. ‘Being there was amazing. I don’t think there’s any event that could beat that.’

Chigozie has always wanted to work in the renewable energy field. He spent his childhood constantly tinkering with appliances to understand how they worked, and fix them when they broke. Later, as an engineering student, he did his final year project on renewable energy. But after graduating and completing his national service, Chigozie struggled to get his first job. Despite his skills and qualifications, he was unemployed for over two years.

‘I was applying for jobs but I couldn’t get anywhere,’ he recalls. ‘I was frustrated and depressed many times, I didn’t know what to do, but I didn’t want to involve myself in committing any crime or anything like that.’

Bills and blackouts

When Chigozie heard about the Get Into Renewable Energy programme, he jumped at the chance to join. His lifelong interest in renewable energy was reinforced by power problems in his home village – the electricity there went off a year ago and hasn’t yet come back on.

‘Things are getting worse in terms of electricity in this country,’ Chigozie says, explaining that energy bills are spiralling while power cuts, especially in rural areas, can last for weeks or months. ‘The bills are ridiculous… you wonder how people are managing. It’s a very big challenge.’

Chigozie explains that solar energy brings the double benefit of reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change, while also providing customers with reliable power at a lower, fixed price.

Time to shine

The Get Into programme is a free, employer-led training course, designed by Prince’s Trust International and delivered in Nigeria by youth training academy Field of Skills and Dreams. The programme focuses on supporting young people to enter and thrive in jobs in the green economy, and the content varies depending on the sector.

Chigozie’s course covered general employability skills, such as communication and time management, and technical solar engineering knowhow. After four weeks of classroom learning, participants moved into internship placements with employers, to gain on-the-job training and experience. Chigozie highlights timekeeping as his most improved area, and his professionalism in this area is much valued by his clients.

‘I like to arrive ahead of time for meetings,’ he explains. ‘I don’t want the client to have to wait for me. I want to be there early so they’ll be impressed and confident about working with me, because they know I won’t disappoint them.’

From learner to earner

Chigozie’s employer for his internship, an alternative energy firm, was so impressed by him that they immediately offered him a permanent job. He has since progressed his career and moved on to another, more lucrative role, still focused on designing, installing and maintaining solar energy systems.

As soon as he started earning, Chigozie began saving up for a Master’s degree in renewable energy, and he’s proud to be able to take on his family responsibilities. ‘My parents will be retiring soon,’ Chigozie explains, ‘I’m the first son so I’m trying my best to step up so I can support my family. They’ve already done everything for us, so it’s now my turn to step up… I’m so grateful to Prince’s Trust International for what they’ve done for me, for the opportunity they’ve given me. I’ll be grateful forever.’

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