Zambia is one of the youngest countries in Africa, with a youth population (15 to 35 years old) of 4.8 million, representing 36.7% of the total population. Unemployment is one of the most pressing challenges for Zambian youth.
The Zambian government, therefore, set a goal of creating one million jobs over the next five years in key sectors in its National Development Plan for 2017-2021. Next to agriculture, the extractive coupled with infrastructure and transport industries is the biggest employers. To support the Government initiatives to bolster youth employment in key sectors, the Zambian Industrial Training Academy has been established. This academy will enhance the transport and heavy equipment sector by fostering systemic change in the development of a skilled workforce.
In 2016 the academy established a center of excellence to upskill the workforce on the operations and maintenance of modern heavy equipment used in the mining industry and industries that are expected to grow as a result of the mining industry growth, such as construction and transport. It served as a pilot project to offer an example of a public-private development partnership (PPDP) aimed at fostering systematic change within the vocational training system and increasing the supply of skilled Heavy Equipment Engineering (H.E.E) workers.
The ZAMITA is well aligned within the Northern Technical College (NORTEC) operations and has boosted its efforts in generating productive employment for young Zambian men and women by training youth in industrial skills relevant for the mining industry and related sectors thereby contributing to closing the skills gap that is currently plaguing Zambian industries.
Today the academy has trained over six hundred students with a 13% jump in female enrollment since its inception. The graduates of the academy were received positively in the labor market of extractive industries.
The academy also had engaged in a rigorous staff development program through which 9 staffs had traveled to specialized overseas locations to upgrade their skills on the new technologies. Overseas experts had also visited NORTEC to deliver technology transfer sessions, altogether the academy had organized more than 38 such Staff development programs. Today Nortec can produce skilled technologists who are capable to handle current technology in the industry and are being absorbed in the job market swiftly.
Due to the collaborative approach of the project, private sector involvement has been escalated and now Nortec has more than 50 private sector partners onboard, notably, 6 of the private sector company had entered into an MOU’s signed with NORTEC to ensure constant supply of skilled human resource for attachments/employment/internship opportunities through the introduction and support of a career service Centre.
The Ministry of Higher Education contributed with bursaries for 263 beneficiaries, in a partnership with the African Development Bank, providing vocational training for mobile heavy equipment workforce to meet market demands. This reiterates on strong national ownership, highly valued by UNIDO.
In September 2019, the academy was expanded to serve the commercial transport sector workforce development in Ndola, Zambia. The managing partners of the academy, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Embassy of Sweden in Zambia, the Volvo Group and the Government of Zambia had pledged to continue their support until 2022.
The academy aims to boost the capacity of the NORTEC through this multilateral public-private partnership program to decrease the skills shortage in the commercial transport sector.
By creating a link with Volvo’s truck division for a technology transfer, updating the curriculum, supplying the necessary infrastructure and staff development training, these
initiatives will close the skills gap and empower youth in finding meaningful employment.
To target the vulnerable and people affected by poverty, the Ministry of Higher Education had pledged to implement selective bursary distribution schemes with gender-specific elements. The Ministry has already committed to funding 500 beneficiaries over the next five years through the Skills Development Levy Fund as part of their contribution to this project.