THE government is working towards developing a manpower policy meant to ensure the incoming workforce will have skills that are relevant to the needs of the economy.
According to National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) Director, Florina Rakeketsi, the manpower policy is scheduled for completion by the end of the next financial year, with a consultant already engaged to craft the strategy.
The NMDS is mandated with paying tuition fees, costs of research, book allowances, accommodation and food allowances among other costs for selected students.
This past week, the NMDS announced during a press conference that it had started the process of awarding scholarships to newly-admitted and qualifying students in local institutions of higher learning for the 2017/2018 academic year which starts in August this year.
The department has also released a list of priority academic programmes in South African tertiary institutions that it considers critical for the country’s development.
Some of the priority fields of study the NMDS has committed to provide sponsorship South Africa for the 2017/18 academic year include the health sciences, mining, engineering sciences and technology, building sciences, agriculture, animal, natural and environmental sciences, disaster, water and energy, actuarial sciences, investment sciences and management, arts, tourism and special technology education and linguistics.
Ms Rakeketsi said it was important for Lesotho to have a comprehensive manpower plan to inform the types of skills needed for the country’s developmental trajectory.
“Ideally, we should be having a manpower plan in place in order to have a clear direction on how we allocate educational sponsorship contracts to students for address the country’s needs,” she said.
“Such a plan is not yet in place at the moment but the Ministry of Development Planning is currently working on the manpower plan. The expectation is that the manpower policy stemming from the plan will be completed by the end of the next financial year. We have already appointed a consultant helping us in that regard.
“This approach is what we are currently using in order to select academic programmes we will sponsor for the year. However, in its absence, we have a task team within the ministry to conduct research from relevant government departments like the Ministry of Labour and related organisations to have an idea on the type of skills that are needed based on national documents such as the NSDP (National Strategic Development Plan).”
Ms Rakeketsi said such studies were used to guide the priority areas for sponsorship.
“The research process is an annual exercise and the list of priority courses for the 2018 academic year has been informed by the same process,” she added.
Also speaking at the media briefing, Development Planning Ministry Principal Secretary, Majakathata Mokoena-Thakhisi stated that the sponsorships for studying in South Africa where for courses that were not offered in local institutions of higher learning.
The lists of new candidates for scholarships that have been finalised, are from the following institutions: Paray School of Nursing, Roma College of Nursing, Maluti Adventist College, Scott School of Nursing, National Health Training College, (NHTC), Centre for accounting Studies, Botho University, Lerotholi Polytechnic, Catholic Comprehensive Community College, Thaba Tseka Training Institute, Technical Institute of Leloaleng, and St. Elizabeth Training Institute.
The following institutions of higher learning are yet to finalise their lists of candidates for sponsorship by NMDS: National University of Lesotho, Limkwokwing University of Creative Technology, Institute of Extra Mural Studies, Lesotho Agricultural College, and Machabeng College.