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Our impact, their voices

From young informal worker to qualified hotel employee

ILO’s support for quality apprenticeships is making decent work a reality for young people in Tanzania. Now, as part of the search for more solutions to Africa’s youth employment challenge, the global initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth is calling for research ideas.

Feature | 19 September 2018
Said Selemani (right) working in the kitchen at the Ramada Resort, Dar es Salaam
DAR-ES-SALAAM (ILO News) – 23-year-old Said Musa Selemani graduated from college more than three years ago with a certificate in Procurement. However, like many youth in Tanzania, he couldn’t find a job matching his qualifications.

After searching for years he gave up and, to make ends meet, decided to join his father as a casual labourer’s assistant. Said’s father is a freelance construction worker who moves from one construction site to another looking for work. Said thought this was the only option left for him.

“Many young people like myself coming from poor families get frustrated in life because of lack of opportunities to get relevant skills and find a good job,” he explained.

However, his life changed for the better when he heard about an ILO-supported apprenticeship programme focusing on hotel operations. He applied, passed the interview, and ended up being trained at the five-star Ramada Resort hotel in Dar es Salaam.

I have regained lost hope. Because of the apprenticeship training, I can now see a new person in me."

Said, 23-year-old
“I come from a modest background and I didn’t know that working in a hotel required so many professional skills. But now after getting the opportunity to train through this programme as an apprentice, my hopes are very high. I receive very good guidance and support from my supervisors. I just need to put in hard work and more effort to get a better chance to be hired here when I graduate in October,” he said.

Said majored in food production. He is among 169 young women and men who have joined the programme.

“The creation of the Certified Apprenticeship Programme in hotel operations is the result of joint efforts by employers, workers and the government to address skills mismatches, increase skills relevance and enhance the employability of young people in Tanzania,” said Wellington Chibebe, Director, ILO Office, Dar es Salaam.

The 24-month training is jointly implemented by the National College of Tourism and hotel association members in Tanzania, with technical and financial support from the ILO. Trainees spend 60 per cent of their time working in the hotels.

Thanks to the programme, Said can look forward to a better future.

“I have regained lost hope. Because of the apprenticeship training, I can now see a new person in me,” he said.

“In Tanzania, apprenticeship training has been identified as one of the best ways to fill the skills gap, as it combines practical ‘on the job’ training, together with classroom studies. It enables a trainee to gain experience on specific job skills through working alongside experienced staff. The apprenticeship training has shown a positive impact for reducing the school-to-work transition period. Now, there is a need to further promote this type of training so that employers, training institutions and workers fully utilize the skills of the national labour force,” concluded Chibebe.

Boosting decent employment for Africa’s young people

The lack of decent work opportunities for young people is not specific to Tanzania. Throughout Africa, youth employment remains one of the most urgent challenges, despite the fact that it has been at the top of the policy-making agenda across the region.

More research is needed that will lead to concrete measures to generate new jobs and economic opportunities for young people.

As part of the ILO-led Decent Jobs for Youth global initiative, the ILO has teamed up with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Dutch Knowledge Platform on Inclusive Development Policies to launch a call for concept notes for research on ways to boost decent employment for young African men and women.

This research initiative is a critical effort of partners ... to help realize the aspirations of young women and men in Africa for decent employment."

Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, ILO Regional Director for Africa
They are looking for proposals that will lead to concrete ways to help young people develop digital and soft skills, as well as proposals that will foster mentorship schemes and work-based learning programmes, such as the Tanzania hotel apprenticeship programme.

After completing his apprenticeship, Selemani was offered a job at the hotel, so demonstrating the long-term opportunities that work-based learning programmes can offer young women and men.

“This research initiative is a critical effort of partners of the global initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth to provide key insights and practical guidance to policy makers and practitioners to help realize the aspirations of young women and men in Africa for decent employment,” said Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, ILO Regional Director for Africa.

“I encourage our partners across the continent to apply and support our efforts to understand what works, how and why, to improve labour market outcomes of youth”, she added.

Decent Jobs for Youth is the global initiative that brings together multiple partners to promote youth employment in support of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.