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On graduates and the need for practical skills

Saturday January 23 2021
Gradu pic

Youth receive practical skills training at Launch Pad. PHOTO | COURTESY

By Lilian Ndilwa

The fact that a majority of Tanzanian youths are embedded with theoretical knowledge of life and employment field is not a new assertion. Since time immemorial, scholars have been imparted with passive academic knowledge devoid of any intrinsic advantage to be adopted in real-life situations.

Even at university level, graduates finish their academic pursuit filled with only textbook knowledge. The lack of practical inputs has for years affected their ability to find jobs or even start their own businesses.

“We are not equipped to face the world head-on as our minds are set on getting employed right after school, and without proper guidance to lead us into having the right qualities that match the current employment market, we end up jobless,” said Delissa William, who joined Launch Pad in their first skills development boot camp which is organized during the holidays for ordinary and advanced level students.

Launch Pad focuses on skills development for employability and entrepreneurship targeting the youths, and like any other skills development organization, it was established with the intent to reshape Tanzanian communities in a way that matches the current global market.

When Delissa graduated from high school, she didn’t have a clear path to head to. She hence opted to reshape her abilities by joining a platform that catered to people like herself.

Today, Delissa is thriving as a businesswoman and most of her ideas were transformed into profitable business ventures.

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With Tanzania’s employment field running low on spaces for new graduates each year, many young people are left without any leads on how to start life after college.

Launch Pad is one among a growing number of hubs in Tanzania that are reshaping the way graduates are equipped to combat real life challenges as employees and entrepreneurs.

With the growing demand for employability skills, such hubs have become pivotal to securing the future for the next generation. Another platform, Niajiri, is also playing a major role in the employment sector. The one-stop online talent management tool provides employers with means which enable them to identify, develop and access top talent while at the same time building the capacity of talent by providing access to courses, tools, resources and opportunities that enable them to perform at the marketplace.

Suzanne Mwilamba, a university graduate who once lacked the ability to make sound decisions regarding her career-related goals was able to focus on a clear path after receiving mentoring and training from these skills-building hubs.

Suzanne hailed the teaching methods as the discerning factor between skills-building hubs and conventional academic institutions. “I went to Launch Pad, and what I noticed is that their ways of teaching are different compared to the normal education systems, they train students according to the skills which are grouped in themes,” said Suzanne.

She acquired leadership skills at the organization, which assisted her in making crucial decisions pertinent to her goals.

The co-founders of Launch Pad, Henry Kulaya and Carol Ndosi, were moved by the desire to see Tanzania’s education system improve by incorporating practical skills in modality.

Kulaya, 42, and Ndosi, 36, the co-founders of Launch Pad wanted to usher in a new way to upscale the knowledge of graduates by infusing it with practical skills.

Kulaya, who was a senior education consultant for 20 years, a principal at Nottingham Academy in England and also worked with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in the Royal foundation, felt the need to play a role in improving the local education system.

Ndosi is a Global development specialist in advocacy of women rights, an activist in Gender Balance and the owner of Nyamachoma Festival brand which involves over 200 plus youth entrepreneurs in Tanzania.

“Education is a wide arena, we believe Tanzania’s should not be changed but rather improved by incorporating skills within the curriculum along with involvement of private and public sectors,” said Kulaya.

He clarified that the current education system in the country only requires to be fine-tuned. “We started by reaching out to education stakeholders including Ministry of education, The National Council for Technical Education (NACTE), The National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA) and other players in the sector who had the same ideology we do,” said Kulaya.

According to him, the claim that there are no job opportunities for youth in Tanzania are untrue, but what is the real problem is that the youth lack that would enable them to find a job.

It is for this reason, among others, that it was deemed necessary to establish a centre where youth – high school leavers, university graduates, entrepreneurs, as well as corporate entities, could learn different skills about Tanzania’s employment and business market.

“We target the youth because It is easier to mould a young mind in whichever way you want,” said Kulaya.

Some of the skills which can potentially help these targeted groups of people are based on global decree of skills which are applied knowledge, complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, service orientation, decision making, emotional intelligence, negotiation, people management and personal skills.

“We usually develop our own modules which are then taught practically by trainers who were also taught at Launch Pad right after its establishment in 2017,” said Kulaya.

The training institute focuses on blended learning which bonds the teacher-student relationship and enhances the interaction between them.

Ismail Sabuni and Nicky Muganga are among the beneficiaries of the practical training.

“Every bit of detail and knowledge we acquired at the institute was put into practice thereafter,” said Sabuni.

He explained that the trainers groom you basing on your interests even before joining the institute. “This creates a conducive space for one to easily understand and find merit in the practical teachings,” said Sabuni.

Practical training to improve graduates’ employability and also create a future of competent entrepreneurs is what Tanzania needs more of in the bid to create a generation of youth who not only have the ability to execute any task within their field of expertise, but are also able to create their own jobs.