PRETORIA: 11TH APRIL, 2016 – The five University of Zambia engineering graduates who were on a Zambian High Commission-arranged apprenticeship programme with a South African – based company have successfully completed their training and will return to Zambia this week.
The South African company, Ubun2 Group of Companies, has since offered permanent employment to two of the candidates for their outstanding performance during the programme, while the remaining three would be taken on once the company commences its operations in Zambia.
The five who recently graduated in civil and mechanical engineering from the University of Zambia arrived in Johannesburg on January 15 this year and were met in Pretoria and handed over to Ubun2 Group, by Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, His Excellency, Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba.
The five, Alice Munthali, Ricky Siamatu, Enoch Sichone, Wilson Kapungwe and Charles Silungwe, were attached for a three-month period to Ubun2 Group’s operations situated in Pietermaritzburg and Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.
Arrangements for the engagement of Enoch Sichone as an employee of Ubun2 Group of Companies have been concluded while those for the second candidate are still progressing. Mr. Sichone will be returning to South Africa in the next two weeks to take up his position.
And Government has commended Ubun2 Group for what it has termed as a rare initiative, if not the first, in which a company that has not yet made not even a penny in profits has opted to spend its own money to empower Zambians.
Charge D’ Affaires at the Zambian High Commission in South Africa, Ms. Philomena Kachesa said Zambia has had several companies, owned by both local and foreign investors who have been operating in Zambia for many years and have made huge profits but have never spent anything, even under the ambit of corporate social responsibility.
Ms. Kachesa was speaking at the certificate presentation and handover ceremony of the five candidates back to the Zambian Government which was held at the High Commission in Pretoria this morning.
“Moving forward, I think as Government, we will be assured of a win-win situation if we choose to work with companies such as Ubun2 Group. They have indeed shown the way and it is our hope as Government that other investors as well as potential investors will emulate them. As Government, we thank you so much for this gesture as it will greatly contribute to skills transfer of the latest technologies into Zambia,” Ms. Kachesa said.
She hoped that the five found the programme valuable and had acquired skills that they would put to use for the benefit of Zambia.
She urged Ubun2 Group of companies to ensure that the candidates formed their staff compliment when the company finally moved to set up operations in Zambia.
Ms. Kachesa also called on young Zambians to strive to be self-reliant by creating their own employment as opposed to waiting to find be employed.
“I wish to take this opportunity to make a call that it is high time Zambian graduates at both secondary and tertiary level stopped looking at education as something that should prepare them to be employees, but should look at education as something that should arm them with the capabilities to be able to stand on their own and generate income.”
“We should strive to be employers of others as we go through our education process. That is the only way we will effectively contribute to the growth of our economy in this environment which we all know to have very few job opportunities,” Ms. Kachesa said.
And Ubun2 Group of Companies Director of Corporate Affairs, Apostle Emmanuel Nkhoma said his company was excited that the apprenticeship programme, conducted over a period of 90 days of practical work, had been successfully completed.
Apostle Nkhoma said the performance of the five participants was impressive to a point where the company would invite another group from Zambia through the High Commission.
“Our company wishes to continue with this initiative and commitment of offering this kind of exchange programmes to the emerging engineers in Zambia as part of our contribution to Africa’s national development,” Apostle Nkhoma said.
He said Ubun2 would have loved to take on all the five candidates as permanent employees or on a longer apprenticeship period had it not been for the structure of the South African Immigration and Employment laws.
“However, not all is lost as our intention is to re-unite with all those we train from Zambia when we finally get our operations into that country.”
The group was divided into two with Mechanical Engineers based in Durban while Civil Engineers were in Pietermaritzburg in Kwazulu-Natal. The Mechanical Engineers were taken through building and assembling stone crushing equipment, drawings and plant planning, mechanical fittings, and grinding and cutting operations. Those on the Civil Engineering side were involved in supervising and setting out bulk earth works; setting out and laying of sewer, storm water and water pipes; setting out and constructing returning walls; supervising road layer works, and basic site surveying.
Speaking on behalf of the group in a vote of thanks, Enoch Sichone said the five have acquired skills that will enable them effectively contribute to Zambia’s Development.
“None of us ever imagined such an opportunity. We have been inspired by the culture we were associated with over the last three months where people have made it to being prominent even when they were nothing before. We thank the Government of Zambia for facilitating this programme and we feel fortunate to be associated with a company that has clearly demonstrated that it is not after ripping Zambia of its resources but to empower the people,” Mr. Sichone said.
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