Generally considered as a vocation for the menfolk, welding and fabrication is not only providing a meaningful source of livelihood for Miss Faith Omoniye Lesley, a graduate of English language, but to 10 other young persons working with her.
This is happening at a time when most graduates in the country are roaming the streets looking for scarce white-collar jobs.
Miss Lesley, a graduate of English language from the University of Education Port Harcourt and an indigene of Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, said she had to venture into the male-dominated fabrication and welding vocation because in Nigeria, employment is not guaranteed after graduation.
Fondly called “Woman of steel or Iron woman” by her admirers, she was exposed to the vocation during her National Youth Service year in Abia State where she worked for a fabrication firm, which propelled her to go back to be trained and certified as a welder after her NYSC.
Speaking with journalists in her workshop in Yenagoa, Miss Lesley, who is already making waves in the vocation, advised youths and young graduates not to always depend on government or put their hopes on white collar jobs which are hard to come by these days in Nigeria but should develop their skills and learn good vocations to earn a living.
She is currently running a welding and fabrication firm called ‘Faomoly Global Ventures’ in Yenagoa, where she trains other young people in the vocation for free as part of her initiative to give back to society.
Miss Faith Omoniye Lesley working in her workshop in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State
Daily Trust gathered that the firm has employed 10 other young persons who are earning a living from the vocation.
But despite the fact that she learned the vocation as a woman, most of her apprentices are men, a situation she said is because of the difficult nature of the trade, stating that the few women who tried to learn the vocation could not cope.
In 2020, she won the Bayelsa State Youth of the Year 2020 award during the BAMA Awards, a recognition she said she got on merit and cherishes so much.
According to her, “One does not need to depend on the government or put all hopes on white collar jobs; they are hard to come by these days. Young people should think out of the box and look for services they can render or learn a vocation to earn a living, because if we all wait for government jobs, many young persons will fall into depression. Young people should be focused because nothing good comes easy.”
On how she developed interest for the welding and fabrication work, she explained: “During my final year in the university, thoughts of alternative vocation or business was always on my mind because in Nigeria today, employment, particularly white-collar jobs are not guaranteed after graduation.
“So, during my NYSC in Abia State, I worked for a fabrication firm – a separate paid job outside my Place of Primary Assignment (PPA), that was how I developed a deep passion for the job.
“That passion made me to go into vocation full time. I went back to sharpen my skills and become a certified welding and fabrication expert. It took me two years to master the trade. The fact that it is a male-dominated vocation motivated and spurred me to strive to become a successful woman in the profession.
“In 2015, I opened my own firm with the assistance of my father and started fully. I started getting small jobs and that was how I got to where I am today.
“When I started, I was not getting jobs because most people were not convinced that I could do it, there was this discrimination because I am a woman but with time, I proved them wrong and now, I am one of the best in town.
“I wanted to do something different, something that is out of the box and something that will make me stand out as a woman, something unique. I did not want to go into the everyday ordinary and common vocation.
“People are always surprised to see me as a welder and fabricator, particularly men, and so they started calling me Woman of steel or Iron woman. The name was given to me by men who like my job as a lady welder.
“I think government should encourage and patronise people like us, but as I am talking to you, I am yet to get that recognition and patronage from government. All the jobs I have done so far are from private individuals. Government can use us as master trainers for their skills acquisition programmes; we should be given opportunity to train others and impact on the society.
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