Story by Justin Mahlahla
The mass exodus of skilled personnel from Zimbabwe during the last two decades created a vacuum which will be addressed through a skills revolution that includes reversing the brain drain and focusing on contemporary skills needs, the Minister of Skills Audit and Development, Professor Paul Mavima has said.
He was addressing stakeholders consultation workshop on the mandate of the Ministry of Skills Audit and Development in Harare.
This workshop comes from the realisation that the country’s industrial sector is suffering from acute skills shortages even though the country has a huge population of educated people who are unemployed, especially the youths.
The skills shortage points to the mismatch between what is being produced by training institutions and what is required by the industry, also reflecting redundancy of some of the available skills and the need to develop the required skills and modernise them for both the present and the future, the Minister added.
Explaining the mandate of the new ministry, Professor Mavima said, “It is against this background, that my Ministry was created to bridge these gaps and ensure that all training institutions are informed and capacitated to produce skilled professionals who can meet the skills requirements for both the private and public sectors. Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. However, its skills level and adaptability is still very low. Adversely, this has undermined the developmental trajectory of our nation. We require critical technical skills and other fundamental soft skills to be competitive. . Zimbabwe needs to adopt a deliberate strategy for a skills revolution to keep abreast with the fast-paced technological in the world. We are in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution which brings about huge demands for new skills. We face phenomena such as climate change and the rising need to green our economies.”
He challenged stakeholders to draw lessons from Asian giants which have realised massive socio-economic development through harnessing local skills.
“Nations that foster innovation can use their national resource base to their fullest advantage. Some nations with scant natural resource bases have successfully deployed their collective national ingenuity to create some of the most formidable economies in the world (Japan, South Karea, Singapore).”
“Zimbabwe is fortunate to have an abundant natural resource base. We are among the world’s most endowed nations with mineral wealth and agricultural potential. We have commendable tourism assets. Above all, we have achieved high levels of basic educational attainments, giving us the potential to turn these resources into unimaginable economic value. A broad-based economic revolution that leaves no one and no place behind is possible in Zimbabwe,” added the Minister.
The meeting is one among many, where stakeholders from various sectors will start the process of identifying sector specific skills needs and the gaps that must be filled both in terms of extant and emerging skills.
These consultations will form part of the Ministry’s general skills audit as well as be the basis a national skills development agenda going forward and will help in propelling the nation to achieving vision 2030 and even greater socio-economic prosperity.
The Ministry of Skills Audit and Development is thus making a call that Zimbabweans embrace a new paradigm on skills development, one that restores hope in the conscience of the nation, present Zimbabwe as a hub for the exploration of new ideas and thus, provide opportunities for innovators, problem solvers and critical thinkers to shine.