ZSM commended for bridging skills gap
THE skills gap in the mining sector is a setback to the growth of the economy as it affects beneficiation and value addition initiatives, Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines vice president Mrs Elizabeth Nerwande Chibanda said yesterday.
She said while the mining sector continues to contribute meaningfully towards the economy, it was disheartening to note that there is a skills gap that is prevalent in the Sadc region.
“There is generally a lack of critical mass of human capital with the appropriate knowledge and skills.
“With the discourse in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole gravitating towards beneficiation and value addition, it’s disheartening to note the skills gap that is prevalent on the continent.
“As such we encourage institutions like the Zimbabwe School of Mines (ZSM) to keep investing in training skills required by the industry to match the modernisation and world class mineral producers.
“There is great need to invest in research and development initiatives on building local capacity for innovation on manufacturing finished goods,” said Mrs Nerwande Chibanda while speaking at the 22nd graduation ceremony at the ZSM.
She commended the ZSM for playing a leadership role to meet the skills needs for the Sadc region.
“I’m reliably informed that between 2016 and 2020, the institution intends to develop academic courses in areas such as diamond cutting and polishing, environmental engineering as well as specialised tailor made courses to suit specific needs for mines.
“By 2020, the institution intends to have introduced a Bachelor of Technology in Mineral Science. Such courses will undoubtedly ensure that the institution retains its relevance in the mining landscape,” said Mrs Nerwande Chibanda.
She said it was noteworthy that the appetite for education and skills development remains high in the mining industry as evidenced by the steady increase in graduates that the school produces.
The ZSM, she added, plays a key role in the development of the country and the region’s mining sector, as it produces the bulk of the industry’s human resource.
“The school’s high calibre graduates are sought after not only locally but also regionally. In spite of a slowdown in the mining sector growth between 2014 and 2015 the industry remains key to the long term sustainable growth of the economy.
“From 2009 to date it has contributed more than 53 percent to the nation’s total exports. It contributes more than 45 000 formal jobs and more than 200 000 artisanal miners. It has also contributed more than 50 percent of foreign direct investment inflows since 2009,” said Mrs Nerwande Chibanda.
She also commended the Government for its plans to establish the Pan-African University of Science and Technology for the provision of critical skills in the areas of mineral exploration, mining engineering, advanced extraction process, value addition among others.
ZSM chief executive officer Mr Dzingirai Tusai appealed to the corporate world to help fund a number of infrastructural projects at the school.
“We appeal to the Bulawayo City Council to avail land for the extension of the ZSM campus.
“We also need to construct a gemmology centre, library and distance learning centre block, mine rescue centre, staff houses, student hostels and sports fields,” said Mr Tusai.
A total of 172 students, including 44 females graduated at national diploma and higher national diploma levels.
ZSM chairman Professor Francis Gudyanga, officials from mining institutions and various higher and tertiary education institutions attended the graduation ceremony. — @pamelashumba1