First Quantum advances local employment, skills development drive in Zambia

Highlighting the success of copper, gold and zinc miner First Quantum Minerals (FQM) in actively recruiting locals from within the North-Western province in Zambia, its Kansanshi mine employed 72 locals in July.

The mine is also investing in the training of the new employees.

The company reports that a comprehensive skills development programme is improving operations in its projects.

Besides creating local employment opportunities, the mine is providing training opportunities for local economic empowerment and an improved skills base.

FQM Kansanshi Foundation social responsibility manager Bruce Lewis says that, through its job centre, FQM is helping people find work through services such as job-hunting programmes and applying for internal vacancies.

He adds that local community members on the mining firm’s database are screened based on attitude, aptitude and against pre-qualification criteria for yearly vocational training opportunities offered through the Kansanshi Foundation to enable them to take on more skilled roles.

The mine is assessing community members through two tests to determine employability. The Dover test determines their ability to operate machinery, while the learning potential computerised adaptive test determines their trainability or learning potential, even with no formal qualifications and regardless of cultural or financial background.

“The company has made it clear that standards will not be compromised during recruitment, and successful candidates must have the necessary skills for the job, and that not only is this a requirement to ensure productivity, but more importantly it is a safety requirement,” says Lewis.

Consistent with FQM’s local employment policy aimed at people from surrounding communities, about half of Kansanshi mine’s production-level employees are from North-Western province, out of the total direct workforce of 3 211 direct employees.

He explains that FQM is an equal opportunity employer and embraces Zambia’s diversity. The company has put in place measures that help to provide suitable employment opportunities to local community members through a local recruitment database established with traditional leaders, and a local baseline census.

In line with its sustainability strategy, FQM is dedicated to developing employees so they can perform duties in their current and possible future positions. This is realised through promoting equal opportunities at all levels of the company and enforcing a strict policy against all forms of discrimination, while respecting employees’ rights to free association and collective bargaining.

The company suggests that one solution to the lack of skilled labour in the ever-changing mining sector is to involve industry specialists in the teaching process wherever possible.

Development of the local economy in the surrounding communities is a key priority identified during ongoing dialogue with stakeholders. FQM believes direct employment is one of the key benefits a mine delivers in terms of its social and economic impact.

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