- Namibia's Chamber of Mine has expressed concern about the acute shortage of skills in the country's mining sector, calling for a review of Namibia's Immigration Act and revamp of the Immigration Services Board (ISB).
The President of Namibia's Chamber of Mines said as the mainstay of the economy, they cannot wait and see the industry further beset by serious skills shortages. Otto Shikongo said it is against this background that the chamber had offered help to the Home Affairs Ministry to improve efficiency. This includes upgrading and replacement of computers.
Shikongo's worries have been exacerbated by the findings of the Chamber's study which showed a decline of 37% mining professionals and 15% artisan trades.
The chamber said it is already clear that skills supply will not meet demand in the next three years. It also believes that dependence on expatriate labour will remain while higher investment rate in training and development continues to be critical.
Chamber officials urge the Namibian government to extend work permits to critical skills from one to three years and quickly process visa applications for skilled people outside the country. Shikongo ses no reason why Namibian should no emulate South Africa that grants five-year work permits.
“The area that remains of concern to the Chamber is the inability of the ISB quorum to sit due to no quorum. This results in protracted delays and subsequent frustrations of our members. We are actually losing out because of this,” Shikongo said, revealing Chamber's resolve to address the skills shortage.
Shikongo's plans include efforts to increase the intake of apprentices, evaluating and up-skill unemployed artisans. “The Chamber, however, cannot solve this national challenge on its own. We require support from government, specifically in the area of education."
"Proper and carefully planned investment in education is required with specific emphasis to address the quality of education at secondary, primary and tertiary levels," Shikongo said.
Chamber President also does not spare Namibia's appalling education system. “It is not a good education system, we can sit here and deny that’s happening,” he said.
He says the situation has forced many people to send their children outside the country - mostly South Africa - in search of better opportunities. This has immensely contributed to a lack of required skills in the country, particularly artisans and geologists, he said.
Despite the shortage of skills, there are a lot of unemployed artisans in Namibia. "No good to take up half-cooked artisans," he said, asking whether Nambia has got the right teachers because "we cannot simply invest in books and buildings."
“Chamber of Mining is assisting Home Affairs with expectations that the efficiency will improve,” Shikongo said.
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