PRESIDENT Michael Sata has directed the Zambia National Service (ZNS) to accelerate the opening up of more training centres to accommodate more youths for skills training.
This, he said, will enable more youths to be resourceful and create jobs for themselves.
Mr Sata said key on the list of ZNS responsibilities was the training of youths in life sustaining skills.
He said the huge influx of youths during the selection of each intake should be a constant reminder to the commandant that there were a lot of youths who needed to be equipped with skills and create job opportunities.
The President said this during the commissioning parade for ZNS officer cadets intake 03 of 2012 held at the ZNS training camp in Kafue yesterday.
The 136 officer cadets with a 30 per cent gender representation had undergone 13 months of military training at the camp.
“My Government is cognisant of the fact that for this youth skills training programme to have a significant impact on the country’s high unemployment levels, the youth need to be empowered with tools and resources after they complete their training to help them easily integrate back into society,” he said.
He said the task ahead was enormous and that the Government was looking forward to partnering with various stakeholders in ensuring that the quest to urgently address this problem was expedited.
Mr Sata said the Government considered ZNS as a strategic organisation that was well-placed to help his administration address developmental challenges the country was facing.
He said the Government was aware of the challenges ZNS was facing even as it had been given the mandate to produce food for the nation.
He said the Government was speedily working at mechanising production activities to build capacity and triple the food production levels to maximise on national food security.
Mr Sata wanted to see a service that was able to produce food to the satisfaction of the Zambian people, and the surplus exported to neighbouring countries.
“I, therefore, expect all ZNS personnel including you who are passing out today to make food production a very serious matter like you do when you are on military operation.
“Government and the people of Zambia have placed so much confidence in your ability to help transform the economy of this country and we want to see you achieve this,” he said.
He commended ZNS for the work it was doing in constructing feeder roads as this would go a long way in opening up rural areas for easy access to markets.
He advised the officer cadets not to be complacent as they embarked on their duty as the Government expected a lot from them.
The President encouraged the cadets to add value to the service that they had joined.
ZNS Commandant Nathan Mulenga said ZNS was aware of the challenges in youth unemployment and that the Service was ready to expand the youth skills training programme from the current two centres to all the provinces of Zambia to increase the number of trained youths to enable them have a better life.
Lieutenant General Mulenga said at the moment there were 344 males at Chiwoko in Eastern Province and 192 females in Kitwe undergoing youth training.
He told the commissioned officers that they came to ZNS to render service to the Zambian people and advised them to be loyal, patriotic, non-partisan, hard working, and disciplined to form part of their make up or they would be offloaded from the Service.
He thanked President Sata for the goodwill being shown to ZNS through the funding of various projects to improve productivity.
Lt Gen Mulenga said ZNS, through the Link-Zambia 8000 Project, had opened 262km of road network in Msanzala Constituency in Eastern Province.
On food production, he said the Service had produced 32,754 bags of maize and 13,236 bags of soya beans, which had since been sold to the Food Reserve Agency and private buyers, respectively.