How unemployment can impact education in the future

What you need to know:

  • The government can make young people love and trust the education system by creating clearer paths for graduates to be useful

According to data produced by the International Labour Organization, youth unemployment stands at 11.5 percent. There is massive economic growth in the country.

According to the Tanzania Economic Update (TEU) report of 2016 produced by the World Bank, the Tanzanian economy has grown at an average annual rate of more than around 6 to 7 percent for more than a decade.

For the years 2022, 2023 and 2024 the economic growth in Tanzania is projected by the World Bank at 5.0 percent, 5.6 percent, and 6.1 percent respectively.

It is important to revisit these statistical findings. This is because an immediate or automatic thought will be that this economic growth translates to decent employment opportunities, with education finding relevance in the nation’s productivity and the plans to alleviate the pangs of poverty.

Most of the reasons for youth unemployment in Tanzania have, over the years, been traced back to education. The country has resources that can uplift people big time from where they are, this is incontestable. But that is not the case at the moment.

We have graduates from all areas of study waiting around and searching for jobs. I believe many had the idea that after graduating they will look for jobs and will be employed and will have a better life. But that has not been the case.

There are still many young people who are advised to pursue certain careers that have proved to be unemployment hubs over the years. As such, the focus of our education system appears to be not necessarily relevant to the lives of these people, but just producing graduates.

We have graduates today who have completely been forced to deviate from their professional careers for some types of work that require basic and minimum skills. There are degree holders who after three or four years in university decide to go to VETA centres to gain skills that will help them to practically make a living.

This sets a bad example to young people who have not yet gone to universities as they are made to think that the education given in our academic institutions is not good enough to liberate them. It brings a feeling that it is going to be a waste of time to go to universities and come back to begin again with things that do not require a lot of education.

In order not to mislead people into taking certain career paths, we need honest educational advice to be given to our young people. This will help us produce the graduates we need for productivity in the country. While teachers graduate in tens of thousands, employment rates are comparably lower.

Compared with other skills like engineering, agriculture, etc. which can be useful in a wide range of environments, teaching is useful in the context of the education system and education facilities; the skills can hardly be used outside the education area. There are as well many subjects that are similar in career trajectory context akin to teaching.

The 2019 Tanzania Economic Update (TEU) titled ‘Human Capital: The real wealth of Nations’ acknowledges that human capital is foundational in reducing poverty, generating future income and achieving sustainable development. Among the proposals put forward therein is that the country needs to work towards improving education outcomes.

While the update focused on improving systemic methodical outcomes for quality, there is also a need to focus on the career trajectories of the persons who are produced by our education system. This is because if they are left to go to school or universities and study courses they don’t like, or courses that are not relevant to the current needs, or which do not correspond to the demands, they technically become wasted human resources in an economic perspective.

Similarly, they become both evidence and proof that our education is not necessarily an assurance of progressing smoothly in life, and as such not necessary. There are passionate young people searching for jobs without hope who would have done much better if they got the appropriate direction before entering higher education.

The years spent in higher education transpose their sense of status and their aspirations. This makes it difficult to accept the reality when they have to go back to do things as if they never got any professional training. This is very far from what we want for this country. The government can make young people love and trust the education system by creating clearer paths for graduates to be useful.