Dar es Salaam: With youth unemployment still rampant in the country, experts are urging the government to put policies that will increase productivity of the urban and peri-urban economic systems, leading to higher employment quality and formalization. They were of the view that despite high economic growth in the last few years, it was unfortunate that the scenario has not reduced poverty and unemployment as expected.
Even the promise by the fourth phase government to create 'one million new jobs,' in five years would be futile if quality employment is not well taken care of.
'The ambitions to create one million jobs in five years are valid for an economy growing at the rate of five per cent per annum in that period. However, the challenge is generating one million 'good jobs.' This requires sustaining the current pace of employment growth while continuing to increase the share of good jobs in total,' said Dr Damian Gabagambi, a senior researcher with Research on Poverty Alleviation (Repoa). He was speaking at the sidelines of the ‘Employment Studiers for Poverty Reduction’ workshop held in Dar es Salaam last week.
In the East African community, the Tanzanian labour market is characterised by relatively higher employment and activity rates compared to other markets in the region, according to the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction and Economic Management report 2009. However, concerns have been mounting about unemployment and job-quality, especially for urban youth, where close to 40 per cent of secondary education leavers are unemployed.
This trend poses a challenge to the government of creating up to 850,000 jobs annually for young people entering the new market, whilst the country must wait until 2017 to benefit from the so called 'demographic bonus' brought about by the decline in the independency ratio.
As agriculture’s weight in employment has started declining, the country must sustain a policy and institutional environment that supports high employment creation by firms, they said.
With an annual population growth of about 2.6 per cent, Tanzania is still at the early stages of the demographic transition. Its population is young, with people under the age of 15 accounting for 44 per cent of the population in 2002. According to the current National Bureau of Statistics population projections show that an average of 854,000 people a year will become of working age between 2009 and 2025.
However, Mr Haji Janabi, the director of Policy and planning from the ministry of Labour and Employment was hopeful that the just launched MKUKUTA-II will support the youth entering the labour market.
'We encourage our young people to take on business and industry more confidently. In fact MKUKUTA-II, recognises the need to have interventions that will be 'promoting the spirit of daring, to support young men and women to enter and participate in business so that they can explore opportunities and develop their own strategies to maximise the benefits of a globalised economy,' he said.
According to the World Bank report, for the last few years, agriculture which, used to employ majority of Tanzanians, is slowly losing relative shares of employment thus the need to develop other non-farm sectors to curb the unemployment problem. However, even with a declining share of employment, agriculture still produced 40 per cent of new jobs between 2001 and 2006, equivalent to 1.2 million jobs.
But, Mr Josaphat Kweka, a senior economist with the World Bank said that there was an increasing need for the government to seek ways to capture and empower the numerous household enterprises, who are more vulnerable due to lack of training and financial supports.
'The government needs to establish a focal point for household enterprises with the aim to support their legitimacy and protect them from harassment. Alternatively, the government should develop a simplified licensing for the mobile traders so that it can be easy for it to regulate them,' said Mr Kweka.
The largest growth in employment outside agriculture has been in trade, restaurants and hotels (720,000 jobs) and the miscellaneous category of Public administration and other services (530,000). The sectors with the largest per cent increases were financial services, mining and quarrying, manufacturing and transport.