Govt joins TPSF to bridge nagging skills gap

In six years that is 2025, Tanzania will be a middle-income and semi-industrialized economy, the level of development will depend much on an agro-industry approach. However, for the approach to bring tangible results key players in agro-industries must possess relevant skills.
The success of the industrialisation drive currently being implemented by the government, to a larger extent, relies on the good performance of agriculture, an integral sector for the development of industries.
As it is common almost all over the world for the development to take place the government sets policies that stipulate the direction that the nation should take.
A policy is a set of ideas or plans used as the basis of making decisions, especially in politics, economics or business. For industrialisation to be realised the country’s policy clearly bestows powers upon the private sector to implement the agenda.
This is simply because the private sector is the engine of Tanzania’s economy. For the past decade or so the private sector has gradually become a significant employer of salaried workers, currently responsible for 97 per cent of Tanzania’s employment.
In Tanzania, the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TSPF), being an umbrella alliance of private sector associations registered in 1998, is an important partner of the government in pursuit of national development.
As it is understandable, each year, 900,000 young Tanzanians enter the job market. However, the market generates between 50,000 and 60,000 new jobs, leaving the majority to either employ themselves or stay jobless.
Various reports from TPSF show private employers complain about lack of relevant job skills among graduates, a factor that slows down the pace of achieving development targets in various sectors of the economy.
Having learnt about the problem, the government in partnership with TPSF resolved to find a solution to bridge the distressing skills gap.
The TPSF says: “Equipping the workforce with the skills required for the jobs of today and tomorrow is a strategic concern that will help Tanzania realise the envisaged industrial economy by 2020 and attain the middle-income economy by 2025.
The Integrated Labour Force Survey, often quoted by TSPF to strengthen its arguments, points out that out of a total working age population of 23.6 million people (aged between 16 and 64), only 2.3 million equivalent to 5 per cent of the labour force, are employed in the formal sector. A total of 14.3 million are regarded as self-employed in the informal sector.
The vertical and horizontal mobility of the country’s labour is greatly limited since the majority of the labour force has low skill levels.
The fact is that, 79.9 per cent of the employed labour force possesses low skills, 66.6 per cent possesses medium skills, while only 3.6 per cent possesses high level skills,” reads part of the survey document.
TSPF calls for a turnaround, saying as a nation it is important to reverse the situation to 12 per cent for possessors of higher skills, 34 per cent or above for middle skills and less than 54 per cent for low skills as it required to attain the middle-income status.
TSPF recently cautioned in its document, entitled “Sector Skills Councils”; that already employers in Tanzania are feeling the impact of the talent shortage and they foresee this skills gap will even worsen in the coming years.
TPSF appreciates government’s efforts towards addressing this problem and it also appreciates government’s efforts to prevent the situation from worsening.
Through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the government has mandated TPSF to coordinate the establishment of Sector Skills Councils (SSCs).
SSCs will help gather accurate skills gap information that will act as an aggregator of industry interests. They will link key stakeholders such as firms, business associations, training providers, relevant ministries and regulatory agencies to discuss and align the skills gap information towards achieving demand-driven skills through the provision of relevant training,” part of the document reads.
When launching the programme on SSCs on June 20, this year, in Dar es Salaam, Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, traced the history of the endeavour reminding that their ministry signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the establishment of SSCs to address the skills gap problem.
The programme gives TPSF powers to oversee the establishment of supervision and coordination councils. The minister also reminded that Tanzania had the national skills development strategy, whose implementation started in the 2016/17 fiscal year and ended in 2026.
She said the ministry was also implementing the Education and Skills for Productive Jobs (ESPJ), initiative that had four components: the skills development fund, trainee voucher scheme, SSCs and capacity building. She listed six priority sectors under ESPJ as agriculture, ICT, energy, construction, transportation and tourism.
TPSF Chairman Salum Shamte said when SSCs would be fully operational the national skills council would be formed as the climax of this project.
The chairman noted that the implementation of the SSCs project started in March 2018 immediately when the MoU was signed and that in the first phase of forming the councils, between 2018 and April 2019, TPSF had talks with stakeholders in all the six identified sectors.
The second phase of the implementation of the project will see several steps taken, including employing workers of the councils, appointing members of the councils, securing a consultant on how to establish the councils and finally calling a meeting that will deliberate on how to establish a national council for promoting skills of Tanzania national council for the promotion of skills.
He further reported that in May TPSF organised a meeting of permanent secretaries in ministries responsible for the six sectors who, he said, offered the council very useful inputs.
Starting June 14, Mr Shamte further reported, TPSF organised a two-day workshop of representatives of the sectors, who discussed project documents and proposals to the national council for the promotion of skills.
He also said it had been agreed that each council would have not less than 11 and not more than 13 members and the majority of members would come from the private sector.
Members will be drawn from relevant ministries, regulatory bodies, training institutions, research institutions, trade unions and business people from designated sectors.”
The chairman noted that in the interests of the nation, TPSF called a legal and regulatory framework that guided the implementation of this strategy and ensure it became the sustainable and dependable national scheme of the future.
Prof Preksedis Ndomba, who is the principal of Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT), commended the establishment of SSCs, saying they stood a better chance for knowledge transfer for graduates.
He said DIT was set to fully exploit opportunities emanating from the councils as the country headed towards building the meddle-income and industrial economy by 2025.
It is an undeniable fact that DIT graduates will benefit a lot from the councils in terms of knowledge enrichment. We are determined to produce competent graduates capable of competing in the global labour market,” Prof Ndomba said.
SSCs have been established to prepare college graduates to become skilful competitors in the labour market. Mr Hilary Biduga, a strategic local investor in the alternative energy sector, said the councils would act as catalysts for strengthening public-private partnerships and called for their sustainability.
I am confident that the move to establish these councils had a good intention in grooming and exposing college finalists or graduates when they enter the global labour markets,” he said, noting that sensitisation on the councils was highly needed.
TPSF Executive Director, Godfrey Simbeye said as coordinators of the councils would ensure the objectives led to the establishment of the councils were achieved as planned for the betterment of the country.
These councils will be very useful to the youth in realising their potential and also be able to utilise available opportunities. We are partners in the transformation of the economy of Tanzania,” Mr Simbeye explained.
He said the government commitment to working closely with the private to address various challenges was commendable and that the private sector would ensure the councils benefitted as many Tanzanians as possible.
According to Mr Simbeye, more information on the councils will be released since TPSF has positioned itself to empower the youth, who are graduating at various levels of education.