The jubilant graduates could not contain their excitement in the presence of families and friends who came to witness the seventh graduation ceremony at the Solwezi Trades Training Institute (SOTTI) recently.
The grand occasion was fired up by a brass band which spiced the event to celebrate 369 successful students who collected certificates from Guest-of-Honour Owen Mgemezulu, the Permanent Secretary for Higher Education.
The theme for the convocation and graduation ceremony was Skills for Sustainable Development, recognising that Zambia has become a massive construction site amid challenges of unemployment.
Board Chairperson Linda Mambwe who observed that SOTTI graduates are serving commendably all over the country, said the institution had introduced a number of courses such as heavy equipment repair, occupational health and safety, and commercial teaching diploma.
“Our mission is to increase student enrolment and introduce suitable training programmes so that our graduates fit in the national development agenda,” said Mambwe.
She said the institute is forging and strengthening linkages with stakeholders in order to equip the students with lasting professional and spiritual values.
Mambwe appealed for partners to construct a modern workshop for power electrical and provide equipment and training materials in heavy equipment repair.
“We shall also greatly appreciate it if our partners provided the institution with library books,” she said.
SOTTI needed further help with works on pending projects which include the construction of the rear wall fence to curb trespassing which has resulted in a lot of loss of property in recent years.
Ministry of Higher Education permanent secretary Owen Mgemezulu said the graduates would help transform the nation’s industries and create wealth.
“Technical education is critical to the development of our country which is on development path requiring that all citizens take part in it until together we achieve the goals set in the Vision 2030,” said Mgemezulu.
He urged the Board and Management at SOTTI to increase access to technical education and be more responsive and timely to the needs of society, economy, and the mines who are major partners in development. This would call for reappraisal of college’s curriculum and mapping out new strategies for the future.
Government aims to promote entrepreneurship and vocational skills training through technical education.
“Your focus should not be on looking for jobs but on how you can actually create employment for yourselves and share the skills you have acquired with others. This graduation marks the beginning of a new journey in terms of making significant and well informed contributions to the development of our country and your local community in particular,” he advised the graduates.
The Ministry of Higher Education is in the process of providing SOTTI and similar institutions with modern equipment and other training resources to enhance skills in infrastructure development.
College Principal Edmond Kambobe commended FQM-Kansanshi Mine and others for supporting his institution in many respects.
Miles Safalao, graduating with a craft certificate in electrical engineering, assured the permanent secretary that the graduates were technically well prepared to function in industry.
He thanked Government for building modern infrastructure at SOTTI and appealed for an addition of structures and equipment.
“I feel happy to learn that management has introduced new programmes and courses which include a technical secondary school,” he said.
Safalao urged the permanent secretary to draw Government’s attention to the plight of lecturers by bettering their conditions of service.
SOTTI is a training institution which is managed by a Management Board representing stakeholders from the private and public sectors. It is a self-sustaining and business-oriented institute, which effectively and efficiently responds to the training needs of the labour market.
The institute strives to promote labour-market relevant technical, vocational and entrepreneurial skills.
Additionally, SOTTI promotes social corporate responsibility in the local communities through sustainable partnerships. The institution undertakes programmes to increase youth and adult literacy levels in the local community.