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Is Employer Based Training limited to artisanal skills?
March 18, 2020 at 11:46

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The Zambia Institute of Banking and Financial Services disregarded invitations for financing skills training for Employer Based Inservice Training, which is one of the financing pillars of the Skills Development Fund. Being in banking and financial services, Zambia Institute of Banking and Financial Services have considered financing opportunities under employer based in-service training to be limited to artisanal skills like bricklaying, carpentry, welding, tiling and other hands-on TEVET skills. The institute and its members, drawn from the banking and micro financing never applied for the financing despite its members being contributors to the SDF. They felt the funding was not meant for them.

The institute organized an information sharing meeting on in-service training and access to the Skills Development Fund. Nineteen (19) commercial banks and other financial service providers were in attendance. Fund Manager of the SDF, Christopher Nyirenda elaborated on the four financing windows for the disbursement the Skills Development Fund. These financing windows are MSME/Informal sector training, equipment acquisition and infrastructure development, TEVET bursary and employer based in-service training. Employer Based training seeks to improve competitive edge of the Zambian economy. It aims to ensure organizations remain competitive through upskilling and reskilling its staff as technologies, production systems, and ways of trade and commerce changes.  

Skills training thus should move with technology and production system changes. Without Continuous Professional Development (CPD), companies become inefficient and the country losses income when productivity is low. In addition, without investing in skills, the country will have serious challenges in meeting national aspirations articulated in the Seventh National Development Plan, Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals. Employer based training is aligned to both public and private sectors' goals in improving their efficiency, productivity and individuals’ employability.

 Mr. Nyirenda explained that companies should identify training institutions registered with TEVETA to partner with to upskill and reskill their staff for smooth monitoring of employer-based training. He said training providers that want to access the SDF should register with TEVETA for contributors of the SDF to partner with them and benefit from the Fund. After identifying a training provider to partner on employer-based training, the company should develop a Human Resources Development (HRD) Plan or training needs analysis. Those needs should be packaged into an upskilling training program. Training opportunities under employer-based training are done through a call for proposals. Companies do not apply whenever they have a CPD programme.

Employer-based training opportunities will be advertised every quarter for companies for systematic partnerships between training institutions and industry. To ensure transparency, accountability and minimize bureaucracies in the management of the SDF, a governance structure known as the Fund Managers’ Committee was established comprising member of different sectors. The Committee includes members from the Zambia Federation of Employers, Catholic Secretariat, Chambers of Mines, Ministries of Higher Education, Justice, Finance, Labour and Social Security, Youth, and Sport and Child Development and TEVETA. Other committee members are from Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM), Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI), Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre, representative of the Principal's Forum, Mopani Mines and Zambia Chamber of Small and Medium Business Associations (ZCSMBA). 

The CEO Zambia Institute of Banking and Financial Services Victoria Mumba contended that in-service training provides practical skills that addressed emerging skills gaps due to technological changes, production system modifications or new skills needed in the economy. Employer-based training is key in improving collaborations between training institutions and industry in education and skills development. Some companies in attendance have in-house training centres that require registration with TEVETA for them to access the SDF under employer-based training. Ms. The Zambia Institute of Banking and Financial Services is working on registration with TEVETA for smooth accessing of the SDF for its members in different professional skills programmes.

Ms. Mumba said human beings become capital when they contributed to productivity, otherwise they will be the cost centre for employers. Developing human being through training changes them being a cost centre to valuable resource. Training them is key in the development of efficient human capital. She said developing staff motivates them, improves productivity and helps in staff retention. Some staff become loyal and dependable in their roles for the betterment of the economy when they are improving on their skills. She added that there were many problems in human capital development such as lack of continuous professional development (CPD) for staff, high staff turnover (they leave after training them). But upskilling and reskilling staff improves levels of efficiency, productivity, effectiveness.

Zambia Institute of Banking and Financial Services views CPD as an enhancer of staff competences and skills to augment organizational goals. Lack of investment in staff retards efficiency and competitiveness in the economy. The CEO of the institute said CPD narrows skills gaps that affect productivity and employability of staff across sectors. “Human resource is a vital asset for any organization to generate money. Training should not be seen as a cost all the time, but an investment. There are many changes in the ways of doing business, CPD is key in meeting emerging skills requirements. Organizations should realize among assets to drive productivity; human resource is among those assets. Developing efficient and productive human resource builds a viable asset for any organization to remain above aboard.”

The financial sector is critical to national development and minimizing financial risks, especially with ICTs being central in financial transactions. CPD is thus key in ensuring the sector is viable and efficient. Human resource forms the bloodstream of an organization that maintains the survival of the business. The success or failure of an organization is dependent on the quality of its human resource.

TEVET is broader and includes hard and soft skills that improve efficiency and employability of individuals across sectors including banking and financial sectors that utilize various information communication technologies. TEVET involves studying technologies, sciences and acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupants in various sectors of economic and social life. In relation to banking and financial services it could include treasury risk management, loan appraisal, fraud detection, financial application development and other important skillsets for the sector.