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Gold sector to import skilled labour

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The gold mining sector, employing about 20 000 people, will soon be forced to import skilled labour after experiencing massive brain drain during the economic meltdown that heightened in 2007 amid disclosures that there is now only one geology lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

The crisis was revealed on Monday by the second vice-president of the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe, Allan Mashingaidze, who told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that the situation was so dire that in some institutions of higher learning, geology departments had closed down due to lack of lecturers.

Mashingaidze said the quality of graduates coming out of the country’s mining institutions was now compromised due to the shortage.

“We are experiencing a serious skills challenge because during the years of hyperinflation, Zimbabwe lost quite a number of skilled people to other countries and the gold sector was not spared from that and even after dollarisation we have not seen them returning,” Mashingaidze said.

“The situation is compounded by the fact that our tertiary institutions of training have no personnel to train people for the mining industry and in some cases geology departments have closed down because of lack of trainers. Previously, Zimbabwe used to develop its own skills and we may be forced to now import mining personnel from other countries.”

In April this year during a University of Zimbabwe fundraising initiative by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, UZ Vice-Chancellor Levi Nyagura admitted that the geology and metallurgy departments had literally closed.

“We have suspended geology and metallurgy departments due to the unavailability of lecturers and the mining engineering department is limping with no more than three lecturers,” Nyagura said.

Gold Producers’ Association chairperson Toindepi Muganyi added that in some cases mines resorted to hiring expatriates.

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