Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mining skills lacking in Zambia, observe experts
By Henry Sinyangwe
Mon 28 Oct. 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE mining industry is facing a severe skills gap in most critical areas with serious national implications, observes the ZCCM-IH training committee.

The committee suggested that there was need to introduce new development skills in the extractive industry to address the deteriorating skills in Zambia's mining sector.

The committee observed that skills training and development in the mining industry, especially post-privatisation in 2000, lacked coordination.

"This scenario has precipitated the current skills shortage in the industry. Given the increased mining activities and ongoing expansion over the medium to long term, the skills shortage issue will be further aggravated by the current 57 per cent shortfall in technical skills, which is projected to more than double by the year 2015," the committee stated.

The committee observed that there was need to develop and establish a mining sector integrated and collaborative skills training framework that would address the current skills shortage in the mining sector.

"Insufficient funding for teaching and research laboratories resulting in lack of world class teaching and laboratory facilities at tertiary institutions; nonexistence of apprenticeship and learnership programmes for the production and supply of critical intermediate skills due to the demise of ZIT coupled with underfunding leading to the deterioration of training facilities at NORTEC; lack of auxiliary core skills such as instrumentation, assaying, winding engine driving, rigging and coded welding and others," the committee observed.

The study recommended the introduction of stakeholder-supported training and technology levy for the enhanced and sustainable production of demand-driven quality manpower for the mining and associated industries.

It observed that there was need for a coordinated national approach to labour law formulation, enforcement and skills data bases, in relation to alignment with long-term investment plans, to be operationalised as a matter of urgency.

"Professional institutions shall be responsible for providing the necessary professional advice with regard to the employment of foreign nationals in their respective professions whenever rare skills are required," the committee recommended.

According to the study, the absence of a centralised institution to plan and coordinate training support after the privatisation of ZCCM in 2000 led to a severe skills gap in most critical areas with serious national implications.

"There is need for government, industry and academia to collaborate and coordinate for the purpose of ensuring that the quality and quantity of skills coming out tertiary institutions not only support the mining industry but are internationally competitive and productive," recommended the committee comprising ZCCM-IH director Sophie Mutemba, CBU dean in the School of Mines and Minerals Sciences Prof Glasswell Nkonde, UNZA senior lecturer in the School of Mines Dr Mathias Mpande and mining consultant Pius Maambo.

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