30,000 students to benefit from World Bank loan

About 30,000 Tanzanian students will benefit from a World Bank US$120 million loan under the five-year Education and Skills for Productive Jobs (ESPJ) project which aims to strengthen the institutional capacity of Tanzania’s skills development system and promote the expansion and quality of skills development opportunities in select economic sectors.

The World Bank loan will also be used to establish a competitive, results-based Skills Development Fund (SDF) open to skills training proposals from public and private providers, to help address critical skills gaps in key sectors.

Only accredited higher education, technical education, vocational education, and registered employer-based training organisations in Tanzania are eligible to apply for funds from the Skills Development Fund competitive grant process, education ministry officials say.

Professor James Mdoe, the deputy permanent secretary in the ministry of education, science, technology and vocational training, said skilling youth is important for Tanzania to achieve its goal of being a semi-industrialised country.

He said the government will thoroughly analyse investors' labour requirements before deciding on which areas should be given priority in the disbursement of the funds. However, in the World Bank loan proposal, six economic sectors are targeted: tourism and hospitality; agriculture, agribusiness and agro-processing; transport and logistics; construction; information and communications technology and energy.

The 30,000 targeted beneficiaries of the programme will include trainees enrolled in university, technical, vocational and alternative training programmes in the six key sectors.

The Tanzania ESPJ project was approved by the board of the World Bank in June 2016 and declared effective on 26 January 2017.

The ESPJ will support the establishment and strengthening of institutional mechanisms operationalising Tanzania’s National Skills Development Strategy from 2016-21, which seeks to increase the supply of skills for industries with high potential for growth and job creation in the country, ministry officials say.

The World Bank funds will also be used in the Trainee Voucher Scheme for low-income youth, to remove financial barriers to accessing training programmes, and sectoral councils that will ensure that some graduate youth are exposed to special training courses that meet the needs of investors.

The project is being implemented by the ministry of education in collaboration with the National Council for Technical Education, the Vocational Education and Training Authority, the Higher Education Students' Loans Board and the Tanzania Commission for Universities.

Godfrey Simbeye, the executive director of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation, applauded the move by the government to invest in training youth to meet investors’ needs. “We had missed this component for a long time and our people had failed to secure jobs," he said.

Studies show that about a million youth enter the labour market in Tanzania each year.