Celebrated World Youth Skills Day on 15 July with a bright smile knowing that she has successfully traversed the very difficult school to work transition period many youth contend with.
Neema’s path to skills training and employment is somewhat unconventional compared to normal formal and informal training methods. Neema chose the path of formal apprenticeship.
She attended her training at the Hyatt Regency, the Kilimanjaro Hotel where she was employed in the food and beverage department soon after graduating with a National Technical Award (NTA) Level Five Certificate in hospitality.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Quality Apprenticeship programme in hospitality targets young people the likes of hers (Neema) from low-income backgrounds and who lack access to formal education for specialised skills training.
Neema’s parents who hail from Mwanza could not afford to further her education after form 4. She made the sacrifice to forgo university for her six other siblings to go to school in 2012: “I stayed at home for almost five years, doing nothing. I had no hope and thought that marriage was my best option.”
Neema heard about a new Apprenticeship programme by the government of Tanzania with support from the ILO with funding from the government of Norway. “I was in Mwanza at the time and my relative from Dar es Salaam told me about the programme on the phone. She greatly urged me to apply,”
She sent an application form to National College of Tourism via their online platform, and she was accepted after two weeks of waiting. She was then called to Dar es Salaam for an interview which she passed.
“I began my studies in March 2017 and completed in December 2018 with 49 other colleagues. We were fully funded by ILO covering our school fees, meals and accommodations and other charges during practical lessons,” she noted. Neema’s parents were happy to cover the remaining fee of not more Sh100, 000 per year. Furthermore Neema was able to earn a small monthly salary while she was apprenticing at the Hyatt.
Without sponsorship from ILO, Neema would have paid not less than Sh1.4 million as tuition fee and other academic charges per year, which she admitted that her family could not afford.
“My training and learning experience was good and exciting because it was mostly based on practical learning rather than theory,” Neema received theory and practical training in three different areas, front desk, housekeeping and food and beverage in her first year of training.
She specialized in the food and beverage department during her second year. While training at the Hyatt, Neema was devolved to a supervisor who guided and trained her. All supervisors received training by the ILO on the apprenticeship training system.
Neema is now independent, dwelling at Kawe, Dar es Salaam and she supports her family, financially. The training she has received made her avid pursuer of lifelong learning: “I want to learn more about bakery and business management, as I would love to one day open my own bakery business.” Neema continues to receive post training support from the ILO through employability and entrepreneurial skills training and mentorship launched to further assist the apprentices on their journeys to a better future.
Mr Ong'oso Elijah, a tutor and Apprenticeship coordinator at National college of Tourism (NCT) said the programme equips the apprentices with sufficient skills to compete in the hospitality labour market. “It is a competence based training where the apprentices spend 2 years training with 6 months in college then 18 months apprenticing in the hotels. This offers them with full exposure to the industry and exposes them to workplace culture, “he noted.
According to him, if well embraced, the programme will groom competent hoteliers to serve under different departments. Apprentices are taken through both theoretical and on the job training in differently departments (front desk, housekeeping, food and beverage).
Beneficiaries of the programme must have completed form four education with at least 4 passes. Candidates should also be able to speak English and have a passion for working in the hospitality industry. The programme offers apprenticeships in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
“It is the two-year programme which started in 2013/14 financial year as first phase and the second phase started in 2016/17 while the third one is on progress,” he said.
171 apprentices have graduated while securing full time employment a maximum of three months after graduating. In fact many Apprentices were offered job posts before formally graduating.
The project is funded by the Government of Norway and implemented by ILO in close collaboration with Government (Ministry of education), Training institutions (NCT) and Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE). It aims to promote both technical training and soft skills development as integral parts of decent work promotion amongst the youth population. The ILO has established the program with a strong belief that skills play a critical role in pushing forward the country’s development.
Tanzania Skills development system and its challenges.
According to ILO, the country’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system has achieved significant milestones particularly in increasing the number of young women and men enrolled in post basic/general education and training.
According to Mr. Albert Okal, National Coordinator for the above ILO program, The ILO task of improving skills system has been focused on strengthening cooperation between public and private sector in designing, implementing and monitoring the training programmes.