To address mine rescue skills shortages in the country, TEVETA, Zambia Chamber of Mines and Mopani Central Training Centre have signed a tripartite training agreement to up-skill miners in mine rescue in different mines. The training agreement is worth K2 million. It will benefit 180 miners at Lubambe Mine, Konkola Copper Mines, First Quantum Minerals Ltd among other mines. The contract focuses on critical skills required for efficient operation of the mining industry. The employee up-skilling programme is aimed at ensuring that the TEVET sector contributes to meeting the skills requirements of the economy efficiently and sustainably.
The agreement was signed under Employer Based In-Service Training, which is one of the skills financing pillars of the Skills Development Fund (SDF). Proceeds from the SDF are the sources of the funds towards the up-skilling programme. The Chamber of Mines in Zambia signed on behalf of mining companies. The up-skilling programme in mine rescue will be undertaken by Mopani Central Training Central. This employee up-skilling programme is one of the series of interventions aimed at ensuring that the TEVET sector contributes to meeting the skills requirements of the economy in an efficient, effective and sustainable manner.
The Chamber of Mines CEO Sokwani Chilembo contended that the SDF as a critical aspect in addressing industry challenges such as skills gaps and mismatches. Up-skilling of employees in high risk areas of the mining sector minimized accidents, secured lives of miners and protected the mining equipment. A skilled workforce in providing high quality mine rescue services raises Zambia’s profile as a mining investment destination. Mine rescue skills have been obtained outside the country, making the cost of training costly. Acquiring the skills locally reduces the cost of training and increases the chance of sustained up-skilling in mine rescue on a timely basis.
The up-skilling programme in emergency safety in the mines promotes closer collaboration between industry and local training providers. It also subsidizes skills training hence making continuous professional development (CPD) more affordable. With the right skillsets, efficiencies in production processes will be enhanced, resulting in high productivity and financial gains in the mining sector. The up-skilling programme also seeks to equip employees with relevant skills to mitigate redundancies due to skill obsolescence/not up-to-date.
TEVETA values collaborations between training institutions and industry as such constant interaction results into the development of relevant skills to the industry. Training institutions also need exposure to new technology/production systems used in industry and hence the importance of this programme.
Up-skilling programmes in the last two years have executed with different employers. Amongst the employers include Bell Equipment Zambia, ZESCO Ltd, Zambia Sugar, Lubambe Copper Mine, African Mechanics, Superlift, Epiroc Zambia Ltd, Nkana Water and Sewerage Company, Chambishi Copper Smelter and Konkola Copper Mines.
Mopani Central Training Centre is state-of-the-art training institution with modern workshops, equipment and tools. Mining companies are confident in the quality of skills in mine rescue from the centre. Mine rescue is the practiced response to a mine emergency situation that endangers life, property, and the continued operation of the mine. The primary objective of mine rescue is preventing loss of life. The secondary objective is the safe recovery of the mine and its return to normal production. The mine rescue up-skilling programme is designed to sharpen skills and test the knowledge of mine rescuers who would be called on to respond to mine emergencies.
These up-skilling programmes are in line with mining industry objectives to meet mineral excavation targets and safeguarding health and safety, disaster management and mine rescue. The TEVET sector through collaborations with industry is proactively developing strategies to train mining skilled persons in handling mine emergency situations and to provide hands-on experience for managing potential accident and disaster scenarios underground. The Skills Development Fund has a financing window that focuses on capacity building of employees for enhanced productivity in the country.
Financing up-skilling of employees is among the steps aimed at gathering pace in enhancing TEVET’s contribution to the achievement of the objectives of Vision 2030, Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other developmental targets through effective, efficient and sustainable skills development. The up-skilling programmes augment the alignment of TEVET to industry and national skills needs and ensure the country remains a competitive investment destination. Quality and adequate skilled human resource is a vital component in attracting investment.
Globally, technical and vocational education and training has been identified as one of the important sectors to support economic growth and poverty alleviation, improve the productivity and wealth and job creation using hands-on and entrepreneurial skills acquired from the sector. Technical and vocational education and training is also key in the development of green skills to help meet sustainable development goals and promote social inclusion.
Technical and vocational education and training system creates links between training and the world of work by continuously building capacity among players in different sectors.
The TEVET system is increasingly creating valuable lifelong learning pillars adaptable to the needs of different industries, communities’ social and economic situations. National aspirations such as those on employment creation and overall growth of the economy in all sectors should be mirrored in the technical and vocational education and training system by consistently aligning it to those ambitions.
By Clive Siachiyako