The Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) needs to align more closely with industry with regard to bursaries and bursary management, Minerals Council South Africa skills development head Mustak Ally has said.
Speaking at the 2023 Annual Consultative Conference and Inaugural Mining Skills Lekgotla in Boksburg, on November 23, he criticised the MQA for failing to ensure that bursary recipients were not adequately positioned for employment and career establishment following their studies.
He noted that there were currently more than 2 000 bursaries in the pipeline being funded through the MQA. However, he questioned the wide-based approach that lacked coordination with the mining industry to find bursary recipients jobs that further enhance their learning and entrench them in their career paths.
“We’ve got to ask ourselves, where are they going? Will they get employed? Have we placed them with organisations where they can be picked up?” he asked.
He said employers had long been requesting to collaborate with the MQA more closely so that the MQA’s bursary system could be better aligned with the needs of the industry, thereby positioning candidates for better growth opportunities and a more vibrant local mining economy filled with the appropriate skills.
He also criticised the MQA’s research methods for determining skills gaps in the mining industry, saying that the surveys and questionnaires sent out to industry often went ignored.
“Time and time again they send out surveys, questionnaires, asking where’s your demand and what are the skills you need? And once received people say okay, it’s just a survey, and then forget about it. We cannot keep adopting that kind of approach if we want to make sure that the MQA is driving development in the spaces and the areas that we need to,” Ally said.
Instead, he said it was necessary to work harder to establish closer relationships so that industry and the MQA could be more in sync.
Ally said that creating a collaborative ecosystem in the minerals and mining sectors would involve fostering trust, mutual respect and a shared vision among all stakeholders for sustainable and responsible practices that benefited everyone involved.