THE government through Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) yesterday launched the Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) whose responsibility is to gather accurate skills gap information for the domestic market.
The council has been established as part of the strategies to bridge the skills gap in the country's workforce. The government had given TPSF the mandate to establish, coordinate and supervise the SSCs, which are part of the 2016/2025 National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) that aims at addressing employability of graduates from higher learning institutions in the country.
The SSCs will link key stake holders like companies, business associations, trainers, relevant ministries and regulatory agencies to discuss and align the skills gap information to achieve demand driven skills through provision of relevant trainings.
Six sectors agriculture and agribusiness; transport and logistics; construction; information and communication technology; energy; and tourism and hospitality have been established based on the council, according to Education, Science and Technology Minister Professor Joyce Ndalichako.
She explained that the government involved the private sector to improve the SSCs because they are the main employers and know the job market demands better.
"The aim of these sectors is to engage the private sector in assisting the government to identify areas that need skill upgrade for the required trainings to be provided and create the curriculum that is needed in the job market," she elaborated.
According to Integrated Labour Force Surveys, majority of the labour force have low level of skills, with 79.9 per cent of employed labour force reportedly with low skill level occupations.
The minister revealed that the sectors through the joint initiative with the private sector, schools and government, will be able to identify weaknesses and strengths of students and improve them before graduating.
She, however, raised concern, with some companies in the private sector, saying, "Some players in the private sector have been reluctant to accept students seeking to do internships in their organisations.
These councils will serve as the bridge and connect government, universities and respective companies to ensure that students get the needed training." The major aim is to engage the private sector in ensuring that education and training provided to the Tanzanian youth coincide with the job market demand, said Prof Ndalichako.
"The programme will also identify talented individuals who haven't attended any formal training... we want to acknowledge such people and create an environment for them to further their skills under 'Prior Learning Recognition' initiative," she stated.
The main challenge facing Tanzanians is existence of a lot of skill sets that are not being trained in schools and universities but are critical in the job market, investment activities and businesses, said TPSF Chairperson Salum Shamte.
"There is a great need of enabling students from an early stage like primary school level with needed skill set in various sectors and even in self-employment," he stated.
He said 97 percent of all employed citizens are from the private sector, the reason behind inclusion of the sector in the project to prepare the needed skill sets for students and enable the sector to get employees with the required skill sets as well as create people who can employ themselves upon completion of studies.
"This partnership between the government, private sector and training institutions is highly important because when students are on their holidays, they don't have to waste time, they can instead be assigned in their desired industries and acquire the needed training; and once they graduate they are ready for employment or establishment of own businesses," he said.
He further elaborated that a large percent of students' skill sets intended to create entrepreneurs who can employ themselves.
"It is very important for people to understand this. Not every graduate wants to be employed; there are many who want to employ themselves. However the question is once they graduate what skills have they acquired?" he stressed.