Readying Young People for a New Jobs Market

By Ciara O'Sullivan, International Media Manager, VSO

Readying Young People for a New Jobs Market

The second report in VSO’s Producing Progress series looks at a programme based in Tanzania: Enhancing Employability through Vocational Training (EEVT). The reports draw out lessons from a variety of programmes, including those that improve employment opportunities, strengthen markets for smallholder producers and align skills needs with supply.

The EEVT project, started in 2012, is funded by BG Group Tanzania and LNG Project Tanzania. It uses a unique partnership model to address the skills gap that prevents young people from benefitting from the significant quantities of natural gas deposits off the coast in Mtwara and Lindi.

The relationship between natural resources and human development brings to mind the term ‘resource curse’ – the positive relationship observed between resource endowment and levels of poverty and the poor employment potential of the sector.

Increasingly, governments are implementing legislation to maximise the benefit of resources for their people. Local content type policies that demand the use of local labour and enterprises in production and extraction are proliferating. There are some problems with this type of legislation when not implemented correctly, but the premise is simple: to maximise the linkages between resources and communities. VSO is working to support Tanzania’s delivery of their local content policy, in particular the 2013 Natural Gas Policy so that this gap is made smaller.

Various studies have documented the gap in hard and soft skills between those required by investing businesses and those that the youth population are equipped with. Indeed, this was the conclusion of a study carried out by VSO in partnership with BG Group, which informed the structure of the EEVT project. It identified weaknesses in the country’s vocational training system varying from teaching proficiency to lack of exposure to practical ‘hands on’ training opportunities that left young people ill-equipped for the demands of the workforce.

The EEVT project tries to improve the employability of young people in Mtwara and Lindi and increase the number of graduates qualified in the vocational skills needed by the oil and gas linked industries. They do this by simply lifting the standards of vocational training centres to internationally-recognised levels in six areas of craftsmanship; food preparation, plumbing, welding, carpentry, vehicle maintenance and electrical installation. ‘Softer’ skills are also prioritised, including health and safety, ICT and team work.

The strength of the EEVT project lies in combining VSO’s longstanding relationship with Tanzania’s Ministry of Education with the relevant knowledge and networks of BG Group to boost the capacity of the national training authority to deliver training and qualifications resilient to the changing needs of an economy, recognised by investing businesses and empowering for marginalised groups.

VSO volunteers are integral to this approach, advising on international health and safety standards, providing day-to-day support to the instructors and advocating for changes in the curriculum that would update the training system. One VSO Volunteer, Kayley Atherton, previously a Royal Mail engineer, is among those helping to tackle traditional views on the gendered division of labour.

Ameena, a female student based at a vocational training centre in Mtwara, started a course in electrical installation and is now encouraging fellow girls to do the same. She speaks about the tendency for men and women to take different courses and go into gender specific trades. But she says her community is becoming more open minded and that ‘any work can be done by anyone’.

To read the full report on VSO’s programme in Tanzania, please click here.

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