Today, due to the competition created by the mismatch between available jobs and the number of graduates entering the job market, students are increasingly facing pressure to improve their academic credentials and to add valuable skills that make them more competitive and thus, more employable. The quest for targeted academic and professional skills is further geared towards responding to market trends, as the labor market is constantly changing.
According to REPOA Research Center, Tanzania’s 41 universities (including colleges) usually churn out between 800,000 and 1,000,000 graduates per year. Most of these graduates expect to be assimilated in the local labor market but REPOA notes that on average, the Tanzanian labor market creates only about 250,000 jobs a year, with most graduates taking about 5.5 years to secure employment.
One of the reasons for this challenging situation is that most graduates lack or have limited necessary and complimentary ‘soft’ skills to enable them to find employment in the formal sector. These skills include analytical, investigative, entrepreneurial, supervisory, time management, and basic computer knowledge skills. Key experience of being an effective team player is also fundamental.
It’s against this background that Tigo Tanzania birthed the Tigo Graduate Development Program; an initiative whereby the telecom recruits fresh Tanzanian graduates from the universities across the country and beyond with a view to training, incubating, and exposing them to real-life work situations to prepare and give them an opportunity to develop key these skills.
Tigo Managing Director, Simon Karikari says that through the Tigo Graduate Development Program, new graduates are incorporated into the company in a one-year development program where they are able to ‘learn all the ropes’ about the telecom business as well as focus their skill development to make them specialize in their respective area of expertise and passion.
“The program seeks to sharpen the graduates’ professional skills through our in-house mentorship and coaching which enables them to gain experience and exposure that are prerequisite in preparing them for future employment and leadership positions in the corporate world in Tanzania and beyond”, says Karikari.
This program was widely published in both mainstream and social media. Speaking on the graduates’ recruitment, Karikari says it’s a vigorous process which starts with assessing applications from qualified Tanzanian graduates interested in the program. The shortlisted candidates go through various interview panels under the leadership of senior managers at Tigo, following which the best suited cream is selected to join the program.
“The whole process of orienting the fresh graduates is to ensure that they understand the nitty-gritty and attributes concerning new skill-sets that the company intends them to perfect”, says Karikari, adding that after the expiry of their contract, ‘Tigo will try to absorb them within the business depending on what the organizational needs are at the time’. In the end, and besides getting the certificate of completion of the program, the developed graduates will, most importantly, have acquired real hands-on skills and experiences from one of the top telecom companies in the country. This should offer them more attractive future employment prospects.
Suffice to say, Tigo’s noble undertaking has come at a most appropriate time, giving impetus to the government by providing measurable learning outcomes by enabling graduates to acquire the relevant skills required by the labor market.
Granted, the program that started in 2020 and already boasts 31 graduates undergoing the development, further underscores Tigo’s commitment to increasing employment in the service sector which, in 2019, stood at 28.44 percent, trailing the agricultural sector, which led the pack at 65.09 percent while the telecommunications sector took up the rear with 6.47 percent. The program is also set to support the government in alleviating youth unemployment which, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), was recorded at 3.48 percent in 2019.
Graduates from this development program, whose criteria for admission includes students with First Degree honors or Master’s degrees with honors in Telecommunications Engineering, Finance and/or Accounts, Business Administration, Information Technology and IT-related fields, will also maximize the growing opportunities available in such sectors as oil, gas and those within telecommunications here in the Tanzanian labor market. As they grow in their areas of expertise, they will also help meet the requirements of the local content laws, and will fill the skills gap where the private sector recruits abroad.
On the whole, Tigo is supporting Tanzania in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) based on its Vision 2025 that targets to have a critical mass of educated citizens with employable skills underpinned by science, technology and innovation-to address poverty in the country and meet specific skills requirements of its envisaged industry-led economy.
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