Friday, October 17, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) Zim deal a blow to South African industry - report

Zim deal a blow to South African industry - report
Ralph Mutema
Fri, 17 Oct 2008 07:08:00 +0000

ZIMBABWE’S power-sharing deal which is now very imminent is likely to exacerbate South Africa’s already strained human-resources situation, Ernst & Young mining sector leader Adrian Macartney said on Wednesday. An Ernst & Young concluded that the global mining industry is facing a critical shortage of staff with the requisite skills.

Macartney urged the mining industry to continue developing staff despite the current turmoil in global financial markets which has seen unemployment in the UK soar to 1.7 million from just 950, 000 people last year.

The report entitled, “Attracting Workers to the Mines and Retaining Them” concluded that South Africa will find itself with a “a bit of a hole to fill” if Zimbabweans returned home after the deal is signed.

The study also concluded that South Africa witnessed a departure of one-third of the its engineers over the past 40 years and shortages were in all levels of the mining industry. The shortages were dealing a huge blow on the productivity of South Africa’s mining industry.

The mining industry in the country is also affected by fast growth in Russia, China and India who are now competing with the Southern African country. There is also insufficient new graduates to fill the posts in the mining industry and an ageing work force in the country.

The report also says that South Africa’s HIV/Aids rate is affecting the productivity of industry in general, but especially the mining sector – one of South Africa’s chief foreign currency earner and which claims a large chunk of the country Gross National Product.

South Africa also has a legacy of poor education for 90% of the population, at a time of massive resources-sector demand.

Australia and Canada are also affected by skills shortages requiring an additional 80 000 workers and 70 000 respectively, to meet their mining industry’s projected needs.

In Canada, 40% of the mining work force would retire by 2014.

Staff turnover was also high, Australia’s the highest ranging from 20% to 45%, depending on location.

The South African mining industry is also facing competition for engineers from the booming construction industry, according to the report.

The report suggested looking outside the mining industry and attracting people with general, rather than specific skill sets, and opening up the sector to a broader demographic (to include women)..

The effective participation of women in the sector was currently low, in Australia women making up only 18% of the work force in mining, compared with 45% of the total work force.

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