The global commission on the future of work outlined the “mega drivers of change” as -technology, demography, climate change and globalization; areas we need to focus on in addressing the opportunities and challenges surrounding the future of work in a global context but one that we can certainly localize in Tanzania and hopefully merge with our Five Year Development Plan II.
These are the same areas I have heard and discussed on over the past few months in the interactions I have had with stakeholders involved in job creation and skills development nationally and internationally. However, in many stakeholder gatherings in the country, the discussion around outlining the challenges have gained prominence over discussions around identifying and creating opportunities.
The commission also recommended we focus on specific issues to have an impact on the future of work; the changing role of women in the workforce, the importance of education and skills, the relationships between poverty, inequality and informality in the world of work, the prospects for youth, the role of businesses, employers and trade unions, and the evolving values and preferences in societies that will have an impact on the world of work.
I could speak about all the above but today I have chosen to rant on just two..starting with something that I proudly advocate for #WomenRights and #GenderEquality- with the changing role of women in the workforce, #Tanzania as quoted from NBS “There is a noticeable gender gap among the regular adult employees with males accounting for 44.4 percent and females 24.3 percent. Furthermore, the results show that compared to other categories there is a large gender gap in regular adult employees in private sector with 31.5 percent for males and 14.7 percent for females. This indicates stronger gender preference towards male employees in private sector.”- NBS Formal Sector Employment and Earnings Survey 2016.
We still have inequality in the workplace even with those employed in the formal sector. Women in many organisations, institutes are paid less than their male colleagues. Professional advancement has also not come easy for women over the years even when they share the same qualifications or sometimes more than their male colleagues.
On to the informal sector now, where we are also advocating for the much needed dialogue around quantifying a stay at home mother/wife daily work, as it has been debated and although the debate is at many a times like a headless chicken, we believe as gender advocates that with quantification will come more appreciation of a woman’s role and contribution, and for governments that can afford it, perhaps somehow compensate for this..see I told you..headless chicken.
So! how are we addressing the much needed equal platform in the workforce that will see more women contribute and participate and how now does this secure the future of work in Tanzania? How does this relate to Demography! Bursting young population, It’s said Tanzania will double its population by 2050! We cannot afford to leave anyone behind, what are we doing to get more women in the workforce, equip them with the right skills and enabling environment so they can both create jobs and be the much needed human capital that we need i.e in the Tanzania Industrialization Journey..Can I please rant about how we are leaving more women behind by banning teenage mothers from the free education system..sigh..Okay..back to the future of work.
Second issue on the table I have decided to speak on today- Lets talk about the importance of education and skills in securing the future of work! We are, Tanzania that is, blessed with a free education system, one that our government feels so proud of to the point they feel entitled enough to refuse a child right such as free education based on a law that had never taken into consideration the plight for example of young girls with a law allowing early marriages. There I go again..forgive me, that was the last one.
Okay, so our education system, which just like many around the world has been criticized and proven to not really prepare one for what is in demand in the job market. The system is so rigid, it has in the famous words of Ken Robinson, ‘killed creativity’. Only 10% of our graduates secure jobs upon graduating from a system that did not really prepare them for an alternative should one not be able to secure a job.
Is education in the system that currently exists- quality aside, provide one with the much needed foundation that would enable them to pursue ANY path? does this foundation enable one to venture into the employment world or entrepreneurial world? Should we then continue to provide this foundation but heavily embed it with soft and life skills that would then encourage innovation and creativity which in turn further secures the future of work.
I have heard young people many times say vehemently ‘ the system did not prepare me well’- which I often follow up with asking, ‘how would you have suggested they prepare you?’, which is always followed by a long explanation and reference to how they were made to study things that were never going be relevant in their working careers.
In my humble opinion, I believe we need a hybrid curiculum- or in the words of WEF report on the Future of Work and the 4th Industrial Revolution- ‘Lifelong Learning’- that would provide this foundation but also heavily embed life, soft and perhaps basic vocational skills. As much as technology and artificial intelligence is a threat to the future of work, we have in many dialogues heard of several avenues that will continue to flourish and massively require skilled human capital. Even with existing industries and fields, it is through a re-skilling process that we will be able to secure the jobs/roles.
This brings me to the Launch Pad Tanzania , a personal and professional development hub where we are determined to collaborate with stakeholders and first, identify what are the skills in demand TODAY in Tanzania as per the job market and innovative environment requirements, then publish a ‘ decree of a set of skills’ that the workforce, youth and women can realistically pursue to actively compliment the much needed set targets i.e SDGs, FYDP II, Tanzania ya Viwanda….
To be continued…