The Sunday Mail
About 1 000 young people will this year enrol for apprenticeship training at various State institutions as Government resumes the programme abandoned in 2015 to pave way for (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) STEM Advanced Level scholarships, it has emerged.
STEM was terminated in 2017 following allegations of malfeasance at the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef), a body that administered the facility.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Amon Murwira told The Sunday Mail that close to $10 million would be channelled towards the apprenticeship program.
He said recruitment of apprentices was almost complete.
“So far we have recruited 967 and we are left with 33 because the target is a 1000. These were taken across the 10 provinces and they are across all disciplines such as electrical engineering, and so forth.
“We are using the money which was released from A Level STEM scholarships plus more that was budgeted this year. Again this is a Zimdef activity because that is its purpose under the manpower development plan,” said Minister Murwira.
The apprenticeship program, which facilitates traineeships of technicians in various industrial entities was stopped to pave way for STEM that suffered abuse after funds were channelled to support students in private schools.
The initiative intended to benefit students in Government schools with each getting $1 000 in fees payment, but indications were that some students in private learning institutions received over $4 000.
Minister Murwira said Government was now deliberately moving towards capacitating students with industrial skills.
“Apprenticeships are done to equip the students with the practical skills so that when they graduate they will be ready to work. We are creating industrial parks right now so that students can develop their ideas into products there,” he said.
“What we are focusing on now is trying to source credit for graduates so that they can start businesses.
Zimdef was established in 1984 to finance programs incidental to skills development in the country.
In 2016, the then minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Jonathan Moyo was arrested following allegations of pilfering the fund.
At least $400,000 was allegedly embezzled.
His deputy, Dr Godfrey Gandawa, ZIMDEF chief executive Mr Frederick Mandizvidza and ZIMDEF principal finance director Mr Nicholas Mapute were also implicated in the scandal.