ZSM com­mended for bridg­ing skills gap

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Pamela Shumba Se­nior Re­porter

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

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