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TEVETA sponsors manufacturing apprentices in toolmaking
March 24, 2024 at 17:0

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Zambia’s first cohort of 16 apprentices in toolmaking at the Production Technologies Association of South Africa (PtSA) Centre of Excellence was sent-off by the Minister of Technology and Science last month. Speaking during the send-off breakfasting, Minister of Technology and Science, Hon. Felix Mutati said the people of Zambia entrusted the 16 students for “the new beginning” in manufacturing skills for value addition to raw materials. “As you proceed to the next chapter in manufacturing, remember the hope and sacrifice Zambians are putting in you to send you out.”

“The dividend we want from you is to transform the manufacturing sector by creating opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship. We will stand tall in the region utilising your skills. We will not be a conveyor belt of finished goods; but we will make those goods using your competences. You will save Zambia from being an import base. Do not let us down.” The Minister said it was the desire of the Government to ensure the manufacturing sector contributed between 15-30% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “But that requires relevant skills. The responsibility on you as toolmaking students is huge. Mines import moulds abroad; this is a solution we need from you when you come back.”

He said the revival of the mining sector required the right toolmaking skills to reduce the import by utilising tooling skills to make most of the products locally. “We will make the Northern Technical College, Kabwe Institute of Technology and St Mawaggali Trades Training Institute as Centres of Excellence in toolmaking skills. You are the repose in the TEVET sector. We wish you well."

Speaking at the send-off, TEVETA Director General, Cleophas Takaiza said "toolmaking is a critical skill for the manufacturing.” Toolmaking is a critical enabler in enhancing the manufacturing sector productivity. The students underwent psychometric assessments to ensure they were well inclined towards toolmaking. We do not have any university or training institution running in toolmaking.

Meanhile, the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM), Chief executive Officer, Muntanga Lindunda said toolmaking was a transformative niche skill in bringing efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness in the manufacturing sector. She said ZAM members have been importing skills over the years. “Therefore, having our own toolmakers will help us change the sector. It is encouraging that TEVETA is evolving its curriculum by introducing relevant skills that drive economic transformation. Our sector has been importing products that we can make in our country. We are delighted to see TEVETA acting on our request for tooling skills.”

And the TEVETA Board Deputy Chairperson, Captain Charles Musenge said sending toolmaking students was in response to sectoral and the Government vision in increasing productivity in the manufacturing sector. He said addressing skills mismatched and gaps was one of the goals of the Board of TEVETA to meeting industry skills needs. “Invested resources in developing relevant skills for the manufacturing sector is on the belief that this sector has a higher multiplier effect in job creation and economic transformation. The youths will gain the right competences to drive innovation in value addition.

"As we Board, we are grateful to the Government’s vision skills development prioritization. The incredible support from ZAM in highlighting skills needs that we are together shaping the direction of the skilled workforce in the country."

Meanwhile, the Presidential Economic Advisory Unit representative Mrs. Florence Muleya said “the training sector and manufacturers are looking up to the 16 students who will be leaders in deepening the manufacturing sector. Zambia is looking up to these students."

She urged the students to work extra hard and be top performers in their apprenticeship programme. She congratulated the students for making it through the comprehensive assessment system to be selected into the programme. “Be among the top 16 performers in the programme.”

And the Northern Technical College (NORTEC) Principal, Eng. Martin Kasonso said "the apprenticeship will rekindle the development of toolmaking skills in the country. This is a good demonstration of industry-training institution collaboration. Zambia Association Manufacturers (ZAM) is a key partner in this send-off. NORTEC will retain 4 of the students as trainers and help revive the machining & toolmaking."

Addressing the students on arrival in South Africa, the Zambia High Commissioner to South Africa, Her Excellency Ms. Mazuba Monze, urged the 16 students to seize the opportunity provided by their training to contribute to the revitalisation of the manufacturing sector in Zambia. Ms. Monze urged the students to focus on their studies and make the most of the opportunity provided by the Government to acquire the skills. She emphasized that they could also consider initiating their own projects upon completing the course, thereby contributing to job creation.

Ms. Monze said South Africa stands as a leader in the manufacturing industry and that the students have been given an opportunity to make a difference in Zambia upon their graduation. This is crucial because the country needs a vibrant manufacturing sector capable of competing with others in the region. Such competitiveness is essential for Zambia to generate the much-needed foreign exchange from exports. She assured the students of the Mission’s full support during their stay in South Africa, emphasising that the High Commission in Pretoria is their home.

The Mission runs an open-door policy that accommodates everyone regardless of their background, because it exists to advance the interests of Zambians. “You should always remember that you are flag-bearers of Zambia. Therefore, I expect you to work very hard and achieve the objective of your coming here and make your country proud. We are happy that you are here and we will ensure that you settle down without any problem before you resume your training,” Ms. Monze said.

Meanwhile, Memory Moyo, who is one of the students, expressed gratitude to the Government for the gesture, stating that after facing financial challenges and dropping out of school while pursuing A levels, she never expected to be given such a golden opportunity. The Government is actively promoting skills development through curricula that aligns with industry needs, facilitated by the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA). TEVETA has been engaging with stakeholders and industry players to identify the skills gaps within the industry.