FQM supports president’s call for skills development to combat unemployment

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President Hakainde Hichilema at the 2024 national Labour Day commemoration in Solwezi.

First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has pledged its support for President Hakainde Hichilema’s call to advance skills development in mining communities to combat unemployment.
Speaking during Labour Day celebrations attended by the President this week, FQM Trident Human Resource Manager Brighton Mwiinga said the mining firm wanted to ensure that its employees were at the centre of helping rebuild the recovery of the economy, through improved productivity in the mining sector.

Mr Mwiinga explained that while possessing the right knowledge and key competencies for a job was crucial, a well-coordinated workforce was equally fundamental to increasing efficiency, productivity, and the overall success of any business.

“For a company to be much more productive, the employee has to be knowledgeable in the roles that they undertake. If the staff are well skilled, the more skilled the employee, the more productive they are. With the skill comes the engagement, and with the engagement comes the increase in productivity.

Speaking at the same event, Kansanshi Mining Human Resource Manager Mark Silimi said the mining firm had been working with the Ministry of Education to ensure that once the S3 expansion project at the Kansanshi mine starts production, the company will have the right skilled workforce running the operations of the new plant.

“In terms of working with the Ministry of Education, we already have a number of projects, that we are sponsoring as Kansanshi. We also have other programmes that create specific skills that the plant needs. And this is what we are doing through the Kwambula project that we have. And then, for the more engineering skills that are needed by the mine, we are sponsoring students specifically for the skills that the mine requires, both at CBU (Copperbelt University) and UNZA (University of Zambia), and we also have a few that are studying internationally.

“The message that is going to the workers, and everyone who is involved in production is that we need to focus all our energies on production. We are making sure that we get the copper out so that we remain sustainable now and into the future, even as we prepare for S3 to come online,” he continued.

Speaking during the same event, President Hichilema urged mining companies like FQM, which operates Kansanshi mine in Solwezi and FQM Trident in Kalumbila, North-Western Province, to prioritise skilled locals for employment opportunities before seeking personnel from outside the province.

The 2024 Labour Day was celebrated under the theme, ‘Building Resilience: Workforce at the Heart of Zambia’s Economic Recovery.’

“If they are not well qualified, send them to college. That is what the Zambian government, under the UPND, is doing. We have introduced skills training… But workers, you should be willing to learn. If your skills are inadequate, be willing to learn. When you sharpen your skills, you improve opportunities for employment,” he continued.

The Head of State also called on mining companies in North-Western Province to give preference to hiring local people instead of seeking skilled labour from other regions.

“Mining houses here in Solwezi, Kansanshi, Kalumbila, and Lumwana – I said it before we formed government – when you have a job and you are looking for an employee, you must first look within the North-Western Province before you look outside the province …it is only normal that you must draw your eyes to locals, someone suitable to be employed …  When you can’t find one in North-Western Province, you can look at the rest of the country,” said Mr Hichilema.

First Quantum understands that a company’s success is directly tied to the well-being and satisfaction of its employees. The company notes that fostering a productive and inclusive workplace is essential for the long-term sustainability and growth of the mining sector.
FQM believes that investing in people, embracing diversity, and empowering local communities, are key to building a strong foundation for the future success of the mining sector and that the country’s true strength lies in its people. The mining firm is committed to creating a workplace where everyone can thrive and contribute to the shared goals of not just the company but the nation as a whole.

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