Addressing skills shortages

Skills development in the surface mining profession has been shunted squarely into the international spotlight by South Africa’s opencast mining industry representative association, Aspasa, with its awareness-raising presentation delivered to an international audience of peers in Spain recently.
The Global Aggregates Information Network (GAIN) focusses quarrying and surface mining industry associations on numerous topics raised by its members and discusses solutions and best practices from its members around the world.
Aspasa director, Nico Pienaar, says skills shortages are a major factor impeding the industry. “Through ongoing communication with its members, industry associations can play an important role in identifying problem areas and provide workshops or short courses to alleviate the problem.

Global practices
“Aspasa is also embarking on an ambitious plan to provide comprehensive, fully accredited qualifications in quarry management. This is being carried out in partnership with professional training company, Prisma Training Solutions.
“Our relationship with GAIN spans a number of years and continues to unearth valuable information and practices that are shared across the globe and we are hoping that raised awareness and the development of training to address skills shortages can yield input from fellow members.
“South Africa is not uniquely experiencing skills shortages, but rather it is a global problem, and one that we hope to solve together,” says Nico.
He continues that although the problem is common, South Africa has its own unique challenges and opportunities. To be successful all training needs to be undertaken in line with the Skills Development Act and according to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). It may also tap the resources of the Sector Educational and Training Authority (Seta) to derive funding and methodologies.

Unique requirements
In addition, such coursework should address the needs of the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) to ensure competence within the specific area of mining.
It will also recognise Social Labour Plans, Sectoral Skills Plans and BBBEE requirements of the industry in order to build and develop individuals in pursuit of a career path in quarry management.
“While we have shared our experiences with the rest of the world, we are continuing to develop our own coursework and will welcome input from our global partners and local members. The more input we have, the better we will be able to develop a course that is relevant locally and abroad,” concludes Nico.

Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of South Africa, Nico Pienaar
Tel: (011) 791 3327,