‘SKILLS GAP MUST BE BRIDGED IF ZAMBIA IS TO REALISE ITS ECONOMIC POTENTIAL’ – BCCZ

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The need for local skills to meet the growing needs of investors has been highlighted by a skills development meeting held by British Chamber of Commerce in Zambia (BCCZ) and the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM).

More than 60 members attended the event in Lusaka to discuss the issues as Zambia positions itself as an ideal investment destination in the region and on the continent, highlighting the need to ensure the local population has the required skills becomes ever more pressing.

British Chamber CEO John Paton said the meeting’s objective was to bring together key players from various sectors to identify bottlenecks contributing to Zambia’s skills gap.
He noted that there was need for increased private sector participation in addressing the mismatch between industry needs vis-à-vis available labour force skills.

“The objective of the meeting was to bring together businesses and entrepreneurs from all sectors to foster deliberations on methods to address the all too prevalent mismatch between industry demands and labour competencies. The skills base of our human capital has often been unable to meet the demands of increasingly complex and integrated global production systems,” he said.

“This, it is envisaged, will be addressed by assembling all the participants involved in the skills-building process in the country, spanning regulators, trainers and employers to propose possible solutions. Indeed, a major contributing factor to the skills gap has been misalignment of priorities between these very players.”

The event’s panel comprised Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) Development Director Phyllis Kasonkomona, Zambia Sugar Human Resource Director Atson Lungu, and Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZCAS) Lecturer Marian Matefwali.

One of the chokepoints identified at the summit was the misalignment of the syllabi of the current Zambian education system at all levels to the needs of the 21st century.
It was noted that the quality and content of the modules offered by universities and skills training centres in Zambia do not equip graduates with the necessary knowledge and skills needed by businesses and other organisations in today’s fast-changing world.

This was exacerbated by the negligible interaction between learning institutions in Zambia and the needs of the public and private sector organisations their graduates will seek to find jobs with.

In the past, cooperating partners had provided experienced trainers to train Zambian trainers. This had been a largely successful series of programmes but were discontinued several years ago. Perhaps they should be approached to resume such training to help overcome the skills gap and providing much needed training capabilities and resources in Zambia, members discussed.

There are many opportunities for local industries, but the skills needed to take advantage of these opportunities are not available in Zambia. Examples include furniture and wood manufacturing (graduates of trade schools are often not able to operate modern equipment), food processing, clothing, mining and leather products design and manufacturing.

The meeting was also attended by Zambia Association of Manufacturers President Ashu Sagar and Zambia Association of Manufacturers Chief Executive Officer Muntanga Lindunda.

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