20 June 2018

Zimbabwe: Zim, UK in Talks to Bridge Skills Gap

British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Catriona Laing yesterday paid a courtesy call on Minister of State for Government Scholarships in the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Christopher Mushohwe to explore ways in which her country can assist Zimbabwe in the area of skills development.

In an interview after the meeting, British Council Zimbabwe director Ms Sam Harvey, who accompanied Ambassador Laing, said they held fruitful discussions and would continue to engage.

"We just had a fruitful meeting with the minister where he shared the work that the ministry and Government are doing in their aspirations for the future," she said. "It has been a very fruitful conversation and we explored how we can take it forward.

"It was an initial meeting and discussions will continue."

Minister Mushohwe said they had also discussed the warm relations between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom.

"As you know that Zimbabwe is desirous of rejoining the Commonwealth, that is not a secret anymore," he said. "We were discussing our views on what we would want to do to meet the 2030 middle income economy that the President is always talking about.

"That can only be done through skills development. As an outfit within the Office of the President and Cabinet responsible for human capital development, it is important for us to discuss with our partners. The United Kingdom is very key in that aspect so that we make sure that we can look at how best we can empower our people with skills development."

Minister Mushohwe said he was happy to learn that Ambassador Laing shared the same view that Zimbabwe had the potential to entice its people in the Diaspora to come back and rebuild the economy.

He said there was nothing that could stop the country's partners from assisting to ensure that skills development programmes were supported.

"I did talk about the 2018 National Critical Skills Audit released two weeks ago, which indicates a lot deficits in critical areas where we should fill," said Minister Mushohwe.

"The emphasis should now be in the professionalisation and specialisation of skills in critical deficient areas to enable Zimbabwe to achieve its goal of industrialisation.

"Zimbabwe wants to ensure that specialised medical treatment on which our people are spending foreign currency outside Zimbabwe is administered in this country. As an agricultural country, specialised skills to produce agricultural mechanisation equipment should be achieved in the next five to 10 years."

Minister Mushohwe said the 2018 National Critical Skills Audit showed an average 61,75 percent deficit in engineering, medical health sciences, natural and applied sciences, applied arts and humanities and business and commerce.

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