Dar es Salaam — The government has secured a $6 million (about Sh13.6 billion) World Bank grant for improving skills of the country's labour force.
The funds will be injected into the newly launched Skills Development Fund (SDF) as the government seeks a solution to the skills gap in the country's transformation into a semi-industrialised middle income economy by 2025.
Speaking during the launch of the SDF in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Fund coordinator, Ms Assela Luena, said the money will be availed - in accordance with the requirements - in a period of five years and will specifically seek to tweak skills among the youth so they can work effectively in agriculture, agribusiness, tourism and hospitality sectors. Other sectors include energy, construction, transport and logistics as well as Information and Communication Technology (ICT). She said presently there were a number of youths who have tertiary education qualifications but the courses that they pursued in colleges do not match current market requirements.
"These are the youths that will benefit from the SDF," she said.
It is estimated that over 800,000 Tanzanian youth - including young university graduates - enter the labour market every year but a number remain unemployed for months or years, due to factors related to the education system and lack of entrepreneurial skills. Other factors include limitations to access credit facilities, a system that traditionally puts emphasis on formal sector, a non-attractive agricultural sector, gender imbalance and lack of information.
In five years, the project will reach 30,000 youths who will benefit from training programmes on short and long term basis.
"We already have the money. We are now inviting training institutions, both public and private, to submit their proposals that are relevant to the six priority sectors," Ms Luena said.
On pilot phase, the government has already received sixteen proposals. The Fund covers universities, other colleges of higher learning, vocational education and training centres as well organisations that offer informal training programmes.
A representative of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), Mr Edward Furaha, said the Fund comes as a relief to members of the business community who are forced to incur costs in retraining their employees. Gracing the event, the Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, said the SDF will be administered by the National Skills Council. "This council will help to advise on skills needs and the number of people are required in that particular area," she said.