In the wake of changes operating in the agro-industry sector, a new revised set of skills and competencies is needed on the part of job seekers to address the new challenges ahead. On that score, a Skills Interface Platform for the agro-industry sector was held on Wednesday 25 June 2014 at NG Tower, Ebène at the initiative of the HumanResource Development Council (HRDC) to debate on the issue. Mr Shane Hurdowar and Prof Y.Fakim Jauferally, Dean of the Faculty attended the workshop.
The platform was attended by experts from both sides, employers and employees, to discuss the market demand and the supply of labour. It will also be an opportunity to have the views of employers and industry operators and training providers and universities.
The workshop focussed on key issues to examine whether educational institutions and training providers give job seekers with the opportunity to acquire the skills in agriculture required to operate in today's modern agricultural industries; the expectations of employers and job seekers. It was an opportunity for stakeholders to ensure that the agricultural curriculum is revised and updated.
According to HRDC, agriculture is more than just farming the land and rearing animals. It is the lifeblood of the country as well as a source of food, animal feed and even provides fuel. In addition, the multi-functionality of agriculture today includes mitigating climate change, regulating water, controlling erosion and providing habitats for wildlife. The sector generated 3.4 % of the country's GDP in 2012 compared to 3.6 % in 2011. Employment in the sector edged up by 0.2% from 47 300 in 2011 to 47 400 in 2012.
However, many people, including youths, have a negative perception of the industry. Findings of the recent HRDC survey on skills shortage have shown that 59% of employers in the agro-industry sector feel that Mauritius is experiencing labour shortage at national level. Hence, the need to create the necessary awareness on career options relating to research, environmental management, engineering, financial management and other technical areas.
The specific objectives of the workshop will be:
- Have an overview of the current skills/situation and needs in the Agro-industry sector and also to come up with an updated list of scarcity areas for the sector;
- Synergise collaboration between stakeholders of this sector by aligning the curriculum/training programmes more towards the requirements of large as well as small operators of this sector;
- Find innovative ways and means for training institutions to include dynamic inputs into the design and delivery of new/ongoing training programmes to boost employability; and
- Propose training/skills development programmes and ways to minimize the information gap between industry and academia/training institutions, and contribute towards addressing specific skills mismatch.