June 14, 2012
The Tanzanian government is striving to teach young job seekers the necessary vocational and entrepreneurial skills to foster job creation and innovation, officials said.
"We are strategising to convert our youth from being job seekers to job creators," said Deputy Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Amos Makala.
Since 2007, the government has established 26 vocational training institutes and three youth centres to teach students technical skills to fill labour-intensive jobs, while also developing necessary leadership and entrepreneurial skills to become tomorrow's job creators, he said.
Last year, the vocational institutes trained 1,026 youths on entrepreneurial skills, Makala said.
Much of the training comes through the Vocation Education and Training Authority (VETA), a government agency charged with co-ordinating, regulating, financing, providing and promoting vocational education.
"I was trained at VETA and the quality of training there is better than most universities," said Denis Vedasto, director of Devy General Supplies, a welding company. "Students come out with more practical skills than those from universities," he told Sabahi.
Vedasto joined VETA in 2007 for welding and manufacturing training. One year later, he founded Devy General Supplies, which currently employs nine people.
Grace Kabogo, a public relations officer for VETA, said the training programme has received a positive response from employers and has helped the government train many young people in the country.
"We are receiving a lot of enquiries from potential employers who want to employ youths trained at our institutes countrywide," she said. In July, the agency plans to establish a database of students who have completed training at VETA and are ready to work, she said.
The database will help connect potential employers with those actively seeking jobs. Employers will be able to review candidates who have studied at the institutes and the marks they received, Kabogo said.
According to the Ministry of Finance, VETA is funded by the Skills Development Levy, a 2% tax on the gross salaries of Tanzanians.
Lawmaker Binilith Mahenge said vocational training institutes help fill educational gaps and the subsequent disparity in Tanzanians' earning potential.
"VETA bridges the gap between those with higher learning education and the rest. It is a foundation for a medium-scale economy," he told Sabahi.
Labour Minister Gaudensia Kabaka told Sabahi that the government has managed to reduce the unemployment rate from 11.7% in 2006 to 10.7% in 2011.
She said that out of a workforce of more than 22 million, close to 20 million are currently employed, with the increase due to job creation in construction and other small-business ventures. "We are set to create more jobs to achieve our single-digit target for unemployment," she said.
Nonetheless, youth unemployment continues to present a unique challenge, with about 800,000 to 1 million youths entering Tanzania's labour market each year, something that the government needs to keep up with, Kabaka said.
Last month, President Jakaya Kikwete said Africa's youth unemployment is a time bomb, addressing the 47th annual meeting of the board of governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the 38th meeting of the African Development Fund on May 31st in Arusha.
"Unemployment [in Africa] is on the rise and so are the challenges and dangers associated with it," Kikwete said, adding that if not well managed, unemployment is likely to threaten security.
Investment in infrastructural development, agriculture and industrialisation can quickly curb the youth unemployment challenge, he said.
"Small and medium enterprises, if developed, can play an important role in this endeavour. These will ease unemployment by creating jobs for the youth and the fastest-growing segments of the poor and unemployed in urban areas," he said.
According to a report released by the AfDB, the number of youths in African countries is set to double by 2045.
The Tanzanian government is working to counter the population boom by encouraging young job seekers' innovative spirit, the Minister of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports told Sabahi.
The government is encouraging youths to create community organisations in each ward of the country to help young entrepreneurs apply and receive money from the Youth Development Fund, Makala said.
The fund has been in place at a district level since 2008, however, youths have not been able to access it readily and disbursements have not been systematic, he said.
"We aim to have a Savings and Credit Co-operative Organisation in each ward in the country," Makala said. He said 100 million shillings ($64,000) has been set aside in the next budget for the Youth Development Fund, raised with contributions from district councils -- each contributing 5% of its income.
The budget for the next fiscal year is expected to be presented to parliament on June 14th. Makala said there are also plans to establish a bank specifically to serve youths, with 300 million shillings ($190,000) set aside for this purpose.
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