There is need to encourage more young people, especially girls, to join the engineering profession, says the Engineering Institute of Zambia (EIZ).
EIZ vice president for policy, public relations and national development George Sitali said concerns over the skills gap was not new and had been a feature for a long time.
“The gap has been caused over a long period because young people have been left with the misconception that some subjects only lead to a narrow set of careers, the sort that leaves you wondering around in a laboratory coat or work suit,” he said.
Mr Sitali said in their effort to reduce the engineers gap, the institute has focused on two key areas that would increase the number of young people studying science, technology, engineering and mathematical subjects and creating a strong link between schools and employers to open young minds to employment opportunities.
He was speaking when he addressed more than 200 pupils at the EIZ Engineering Career talk held at Kansanshi Hotel in Solwezi sponsored by First Quantum Minerals Limited.
“It is the centrepiece to tackle this imbalance and get more young people in particular girls studying science subjects. The campaign was launched to show how science and mathematics leads to exciting, successful careers.
“Now more than ever we need to ensure that more of our young people are leaving education not just with skills to succeed but also to compete in an increasing global economy. However EIZ cannot address the deficit alone, it has to be done with the world of business and academia,” said Mr Sitali.
And speaking at the same event, Ms Monica Kalichini said there was need to correct the notion that engineering is tough and cannot be done by women.
Ms Kalichini, who is team leader for mineralogy engineering at FQM said women needed to believe that they are capable of acquiring the skill just as well as their male counterparts.
“Engineering can be done by anyone who has the passion to be a problem solver, someone who will come up with innovative ways to address various economic problems” she said.
When asked about her learning experience and challenges, Ms Kalichini said there was lack of support and inspiration from various sectors especially towards women.
“There are various challenges even in the engineering classrooms be it from lecturers and fellow students but it is imperative that you remain focused on your goal towards being an engineer,” she said.
Ms Kalichini added that juggling family and an engineering career is also a challenge but like every other job challenges are the order of the day.
She however praised FQM for their continued commitment to training and supporting young people with the passion of engineering.