As Tanzania is struggling to come up with solutions to the imploding rate of employment, there is an increase in the number of new graduates from different universities each year.
Information available from TAI, a youth led organisation with a mission to empower young people to be socially responsible leaders through practical involvement, capacity building and policy advocacy in Tanzania, shows that youth unemployment is still a dilemma in Tanzania.
Each year, 900,000 young Tanzanians enter the job market that is generating only 50,000 to 60,000 new jobs. Meanwhile, with 600 million young globally slated to enter the job market in the next decade with only 200 million jobs awaiting them, the youth unemployment crisis is not projected to improve anytime soon.
However, the number of youth without jobs remains high, and each year, thousands graduate from university expecting to land a job in the market.
Graduation ceremonies are filled with joy and a sigh of relief for having made it to the podium, but soon after, worries start flooding in as there’s no clear path to landing a job.
Success brings you different views from recent graduates on what they plan to do after graduation.
Joyce Kidiku, 27, is a fresh graduate from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). Her journey to completing her Bachelor of Arts with Education degree was hampered with financial setbacks. Her parents, not financially stable, had to find all means possible to pay for her education. Her prospect is to become a teacher. The young graduate is optimistic that she’ll soon land a job in the education sector because teachers are in high demand. However, the tough job market isn’t her only woe.
“At the university we are not taught personal skills that target on helping us be self-sufficient before getting employed,” Joyce says.
Until she gets her dream job, Joyce currently sells fruit juices and ice creams, a start-up that doesn’t require huge capital. It is a business she has been doing for the past year. For now, this is the only salvation Joyce has, considering the hard unemployment market.
Ethan Matemwa, a recent law graduate from St Augustine University tells Success that he is left in a limbo over what to do as an income generating activity, a he waits for employment opportunities in either public or private sector. Ethan has two sisters who graduated two years back but are yet to get a job. Unlike Joyce, Ethan is pessimistic over the prospects of finding a job anytime soon.
“My sisters are still at home doing nothing. They have been looking for jobs but none [employers and companies] have even tried to call them back,” he says.
Ethan further adds that majority of graduates can’t give a clear answer when asked on their future plans after graduation.
Considered a hopeless situation, one of his sisters decided to spend most of her time in church instead of searching for a job. “She has given up on employment,” Ethan tells.
Isdory Katunzi, a lecturer at Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Academy, says that back then majority of graduates had jobs awaiting them and others were already in the working scheme. As a result, ‘what to do after graduation’ was never a question or a worry.
Currently, things have changed and the government seems to have forgotten that there’s a need to nurture students who will be ready to create their own jobs rather wait to be employed. Curriculums and courses at higher learning levels need to be practical than theoretic.
Isdory believes there is a lot students can learn right from ordinary level and beyond that can prepare them for what lies ahead. “Students need to have a clear understanding of the state of employment in their country,” he says.
Practical approach to end the woe
Despite the fact that the government is working hard to improve education status in the country through different projects like Big Results Now and Special Teachers Programme, more practical efforts are still needed to improve education quality in the country.
Commenting on the matter, one of the education stakeholders from Tanzania Education Authority (TEA) who preferred anonymity says that in order for Tanzania to record progress in the education sector, we need a political will to address persistent education challenges.
He adds that last December, a report stated that 61 per cent of graduates in Tanzania are half baked and unemployable.
“If the graduates are half-baked, how can we expect to get graduates who can tackle unemployment challenges?” he questioned, adding, “There is a missing link between education stakeholders/experts and decision makers when it comes to choosing what are the best education policies. Decision makers don’t consult education stakeholders on sensitive issues; as a result they only end up introducing plans that are not practical.”
Part of the solution that should come from the government is reviewing current education policies and curriculum with an aim of fighting against high levels of unemployment. Graduates on the other hand need to be creative and have adaptive minds that can tackle unemployment challenges. They need to take studies seriously and have career goals.
Lillian Joseph, a 2012 graduate from UDSM says she waited to get employment for years but until today she still hasn’t landed a job. She thus decided to opt for self-employment. She turned her hobby of baking cakes and crafting crotchet into a business.
Through this she was able to make money for survival. She is now able to support her family through her business. She thought with her degree it would be easy to get a job but reality was far fetched from expectation.
“I decided it was time to start my own business since there was no light at the end of the tunnel as far as employment was concerned. I started with a capital of Sh10,000, but now I can make up to Sh700,000 in a month,” says Lillian.
Lillian concludes by advising her fellow youth out there who have not been able to land a job, to spend their time wisely. “There are different avenues at our disposal if only we want to make it in life,” she says.