Editor's Comment

Watch, learn from the Chinese

THE Parliamentary Committee on parastatal bodies makes a good case for citizens and the economy by encouraging local workers to acquire skills from the Chinese.During the tour of the US$2 billion 750 megawatts Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro-Power Station project on Tuesday, committee chairperson Peter Daka advised Zambians working with the Chinese to acquire skills.
The Zambian workers should be keen on learning from the Chinese for the sustainability of future projects.
The Chinese have availed their expertise and it would be in the best interest of local workers to consider themselves apprentices and the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro-Power Station, project as a practice workstation.
However, this does not just apply to local workers at Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro-Power Station but all projects countrywide.
With the country undertaking massive infrastructure projects and most of them by foreign firms due to lack of qualified artisans in the country, there is premium on local workers to maximise on their exposure.
Time will come when Government will stop or minimise hiring foreign firms to be undertaking most of the jobs in the country.
Instead, Zambians will assume the responsibility of doing the projects.
But Government has to be sure that there is enough capacity locally to undertake the projects to its satisfaction.
Local people should not just acquire skills from the Chinese but embrace their culture of hard work.
When more local people benefit from skills transfer, foreign firms will be able to hire more workers within the country.
For instance, there are 600 Chinese expatriates as employees at Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro-Power project, which is a very high number even when compared to the 3,000 Zambian workers at the site.
Ordinarily, there should have been fewer Chinese expatriates and the rest should have been Zambians.
However, we are pleased to learn that the 600 Chinese are working with 3,000 workers who should remain when the contractor hands over the project in 2020.
When we begin to have a situation where there are more local workers on big contracts, a lot more money will remain in the Zambian economy and multiply the benefits.
The demand for skilled manpower is the reason Government has placed emphasis on vocational training which caters for skill needs of the country’s young people.
Government has reformed the curriculum from primary to secondary schools so that school -leavers are not just prepared for formal employment but entrepreneurship as well.
Government has been working with partners such as the International Labour Organisation, the African Development Bank and the Zambia National Service in coming up with vocational skills which are preparing graduates for entrepreneurship.
When graduates acquire vocational qualifications tilted towards entrepreneurship, they will be able to compete favourably for opportunities such as the Youth Empowerment Fund, Women Empowerment Fund, Citizens Economic Empowerment and the Tony Elumelu Foundation, among others.
Acquisition of skills by the local workers, especially by youth, is critical for the actualisation of the Vision 2030 when the country expects to become a prosperous middle -income nation.

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