Monday, March 2, 2015

Why Tanzanian graduates fail to compete in local labour market

Poor hands on skills coupled by lack of innovation has been attributed to be among the factors that contributes to the total failure by some Tanzanian graduates from higher learning institutions to fit for the jobs in local labour market, it has been informed. As a result of this failure, the available job opportunities intended for local Tanzanian professionals are overtaken by other graduates or professionals from outside the country notably from the neighboring regional East African States.An economist specializing in labour services with the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) Oscar Mkude said mid this week in Dar es Salaam that, failure by Tanzanian graduates that emanates from inadequate skills has made some employers in the country to look for other professionals outside the country who could fit for the vacant positions advertised by their firms. Mkude said in an exclusive interview that, most graduates fresh from various universities in the country do not have the ability to grasp or adapt their hands on skills for a particular job they apply for compared to other graduates from East African regional states, notably Kenya and Uganda. He further elaborated that, Tanzanian graduates are not innovative and creative enough once are integrated in jobs and more badly, cannot push themselves to work unless there is someone to supervise them. He said adding that, quite a number of them have bad attitude that drives their mindset  and think about richness without showing that are able to deliver, a factor that most employers are annoyed and opt to look for competent professionals from outside the country to run their businesses. However, he mentioned some areas of profession to which most Tanzanians are not fit such as in areas of marketing and advertising, Information Technology, Communication and Hotel management. In the latter profession he said that, his association is in plans to introduce an apprenticeship programmes that would enable graduates in this field that seems to be new in higher learning institutions to work for internship prior to signing their employment contracts. “Apprenticeship is part of solution and a pilot project would start in hotel industry so to groom graduates during their first three months in all important departments in the hotel industry”, he said adding that, his association would entice the government so as to bridge the gap as most workers in this sector are mostly foreigners. Commenting over the matter, some university dons have cited various reasons and solutions to the existing problem that Tanzanian graduates face in this scenario. 

Professor Yunus Mgaya

 The Executive Secretary of Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) Professor Yunus Mgaya said that, lack of confidence alongside poor communication skills among some Tanzanian graduates is a great problem. He said most Tanzanian graduates are not fluently conversant in English language which is commonly used for official business activities in private companies, the leading employers in the country. He said in an exclusive interview that, “there is ineffective communication skills to the use of English language has been evident in almost every interview a Tanzanian graduate participate to acquire a particular job in either a local or a foreign company.” Prof. Mgaya who is a former deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) noted that local job applicants are not even conversant with current affairs in their fields and the country at large, leave alone being innovative and creative enough an aspect that makes them left behind. Judging from his experience as a university senior lecturer he said that, most of the graduates in Tanzania, including those fresh from schools, are knowledgeable enough about their areas of theoretical study but lacks confidence resulting in poor service delivery when it comes to practices. However, he suggested that, there should be an effective mechanism to put much emphasis on the English language for every course to be pursued in higher learning institutions so as to equip graduates with the knowledge of English language which can make them express themselves fluently. On the professional skills, he said that government should establish a mechanism whereby graduates would acquire hands on skills rather than relying more on the theoretical knowledge as they are not professional practitioners, the service which is not demanded by employers anywhere. “If you employ graduates fresh from the school must be taken to undergo internal job training and this is a situation on the ground as universities are not producing artisans but rather graduates”, Prof. Mgaya said. When asked if university trainers need to undergo professional training in order to be competent enough in their teaching career services prior to their employment starting from the level of a Tutorial Assistants (TA) as the case in high learning institutions, he noted that this is relevant in certain disciplines but not all need to undergo professional training skills. He pinpointed some necessary disciplines like lawyers who have to go for school of law, engineers have to be registered by a National Board of Engineers (ERB) in the country as well as professional medical practitioners. Other disciplines he said are not necessary. He noted that, the role of professional bodies should be engaged in these professional activities so as to get competent lecturers in future with enough professional skills in a particular discipline at a level of tutorial assistants so as to supply good knowledge for expected graduates. On his part, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Academic) of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Professor Florens Luoga said that, Tanzania graduates being identified as incompetent by possible employers might sound an insult, but unless we admit and embark on rectifying the situation as Tanzania will always be taken as an ignorant state. He further noted that, “it is not true that Tanzania graduates are incompetent as such but the situation is aggravated more by discrimination attitude being practiced by some employers who thinks that Kenyans and Ugandans are much better than Tanzanians. Elaborating in this, Prof. Luoga noted that, some employing companies are dominated by ethnicity an attitude mostly practiced by foreign companies notably from Kenya or Uganda who prefers to employ their own people. He said the employment market in the country has the so-called ‘blanket condemnation’ which he described it as the inferior thinking capacity towards Tanzanian graduates who are alleged not to be productive in certain professional positions. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Academic) of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Professor Florens Luoga 

As related with the poor hands on professional skills alleged to Tanzanian graduates he exonerated from the blame citing employers’ reluctance for assisting students with field study opportunities.  He insisted that graduates are only equipped with theoretical knowledge while the hands on know how is complemented by employers during their practical field work.  However, he noted that the notion might be true because not all graduates are alike and this depends on someone’s understanding to the particular professional levels. It’s obvious that the problem of lack of employability is now growing from being a challenge to a threat, especially now that we are talking of the SADC and COMESA Cooperation. In this technological era, the standards for Tanzanian graduates should adopt a global perspective, says Susan John a secondary teacher in the city. She pointed out that the problem starts from the grassroots on how they prepare pupils and students. The education system should be restructured to reflect the current employment needs, suggesting that a practical approach should be emphasized as opposed to theoretical one. She pointed a finger at primary schools which are responsible for preparing students for secondary and then to college or university education which train students according to their potential and aspirations an aspect that they get incompetent graduates. “Unless the government through the ministries concerned urgently addresses this situation, Tanzanians will continue to be incompetent and unfit for employment”, she said. Meanwhile, a media professional has thrown a challenge by condemning the habit being practiced by most higher learning institutions of recruiting their best performing students who are good in theory and not in practical to become tutorial assistants and later lecturers in future. Dr. Hamza Kondo of the Journalism Department and Media studies at the Open University of Tanzania suggested that, before their recruitment such candidates should undergo formal media training immediately on completion of their first degree programs before they are considered for masters and later become lecturers. Dr. Kondo who reflects his views on Journalism and Mass communication professional categories, has worked in the media for over 30 years commended that most fresh graduate from higher learning institutions lacks practical skills when recruited into newsroom to practice journalism profession, an aspect that some editors take extra time to teach them writing news stories. He is of the view that preliminary newsroom practical training was vital for those who would like to become tutorial assistants and later lecturers as their professional knowledge is vital to prospective graduates at higher learning institutions. In this way, according to him the knowledge acquired from newsroom would enable them to practice professional teaching career that would also be in a position to build their talents and consequently become competent in teaching with enough practical experience they shall have acquired. He says the long standing problem of having incompetent graduates must have been originated from their tutors or lecturers who fail to groom them properly to become qualified enough. In order to rectify the situation, he is appealing to the body of higher learning institutions and the government to look at the modalities and critically change the trend otherwise such institutions will continue to produce graduates of lower qualities. In another move, insufficient staffing in colleges and universities in the country has been mentioned as one among factors leading the universities to produce incompetent graduates who fail to compete in the labour market. Speaking during the just ended Parliamentary debate two weeks ago when tabling the Social Services Committee annual report for 2014/15, veteran UDSM don Prof Kulikoyela Kahigi (Biharamulo-CHADEMA) said that universities should have a fully fledged ministry to monitor and regulate standards they follow. “Instead of universities being under the Ministry of Education it is much more helpful to have their own ministry,” he said adding that, problems existing in some colleges and universities in the country result from lacking lecturers, forcing university students not to be in study for long periods.

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