Internship as a measure to enhance employability

Saturday November 16 2019



Honest Ngowi

Honest Ngowi 

By Honest Ngowi pngowi@mzumbe.ac.tz

Among the macroeconomic fundamentals of concern in Tanzania and globally include employment in general and youth employability in particular.

This concern comes out very clearly after students have graduated.

Among the constraints for students to be employed is inadequate labour market experience. There are several options of ensuring that students get the needed experience.

One of these is internship as has been done at Mzumbe University Dar Es Salaam Campus College.

However, internships at national level need plans and budget. The 2019/20 national plan should be more elaborate on internships.

National Plan 2019/20

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On 6th November 2019 the Minister for finance and economy unveiled government’s annual plan and budget guidelines for the 2020/21.

The contents of the plan include introductory and preliminary matters. It also has success stories and challenges in implementing the ending plan. Issues of internships do not seem to feature highly.

Internships

Internships involve having students placed in places of work for practical learning purposes. It enables the youth to get practical and hands-on labour market skills.

The soft skills include team work, working without supervision, going extra miles in ensuring delivery, honesty, trusty, perseverance, confidence, innovation, creativity, communication, people skills and many more along that line.

Mzumbe University has conducted internship project under the United Nations Joint Programme for Youth Employment (JPYE). It aimed at increasing employability of graduates by placing them as interns in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in particular in productive sectors such as manufacturing and agro-processing.

The internship took place between March and May 2016 inclusive. What happened then is still relevant today.

Financing internship

Internships are costly and need to be financed. The Mzumbe internship experience has shown that internships are costly and need proper financing. Among internship cost drivers include personnel costs in form of man-hours, costs of meetings, communications, secretarial, stationary and many other costs.

Main cost drivers on part of interns include transport and lunch and in some isolated cases accommodation costs. For mentors, the main costs are mentorship fees. In what follows, are possible budgetary measures for financing in Tanzania.

Tax incentives

Tax incentives in Tanzania have taken the shapes of tax exemptions for investors. Tanzania’s fiscal regime also grants tax exemptions to various groups including religious organizations fulfilling set criteria.

What is interest in the context of enhancing youth employability through internship is thinking outside the existing fiscal incentives boxes and frameworks.

It is high time we link incentives to employment creation in general and to the number of youth a company takes as interns in a year in the bid to enhance employability.

A minimum threshold of youth taken as intern should be linked with a certain percent of tax exemption. This will attract enterprises to accept interns thereby enhancing their employability.

The government will directly benefit by reducing unemployment which is among the major policy goals as well a social, economic and even political challenge.

Subsidies

The government can subsidize part of an organization’s costs using number of youth taken as interns as a qualifying criteria.

Typically a subsidy can be linked to factor inputs such as raw materials and utilities such as electricity and water.

The government would cover part of the costs based on the number of interns taken and supported by an entity.

Skills Development Levy

Tanzania has been charging employers a tax called Skills Development Levy (SDL). The aim is to use the funds so generated to funds technical skills through vocational training.

There is a need to think outside this box and embrace broader employability issues including internships.

Part of the SDL should be used to finance internships with the bid to impart labour market soft skills on youth. This is a very necessary intervention for easier, quicker and smoother transition for youth from the world of school to the world of work.

Ways forward

Youth employability in general and enhancing the same through internship should be discussed in various contexts including in annual plans and budgets.

What has been outlined in this article aims at triggering many and far-reaching scholarly, policy and most importantly practical discussions.

One expects that plans and budgets will include internship issues not only in the 2019/20 plan and budget but also in subsequent years.

For this to happen, some lobbying, advocacy and influencing by various employment stakeholders including members of parliament, scholars, media, civil society organizations, development partners and many more are necessary.