Exports Processing Zones Authority’s Director General Col (retired) Joseph Simbakalia said Tanzania and the rest of Africa have almost everything needed by investors including abundant raw materials and energy sources, sufficient land and huge markets but lack of quality demand driven industrial skills.
“This shortfall impedes the steady flow of foreign investments into the country,” Simbakalia said while addressing a delegation of senior lecturers from 16 technical and vocational education and training institutes from Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya who are participating in the Eastern Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project (EASTRIP) funded by the World Bank.
“Investors across the world are like flying birds because they always go where there is a friendly environment to support their businesses,” he told the group of academicians after touring Benjamin William Mkapa Special Economic Zones in Dar es Salaam earlier this week.
He challenged them and their institutions to focus on nurturing skilled workforces largely comprising youths that are in big demand by industrial investors from different parts of the world.
In a presentation to the delegation, the EPZA Director of Investment Promotion and Facilitation, James Maziku said with the advent of the 4th industrial revolution, labour skills frameworks are set to change.
According to the World Economic Forum the skills sets required in both old and new occupations will change in most industries and transform how and where people work.
Maziku said the government in collaboration with the Tanzania Tooku Garments has been conducting skills development to youth to enable them work competently in the garment making factories.
According to World Bank, low productivity and capacity impede the diversification, industrialization, and modernization progress, and if not addressed could impede and even reverse economic growth.
“Industrialization and regional integration are key development and transformation strategies for Africa,” the EPZA Director for Investment Promotion noted.
By the end of the five year EASTRIP project, the 16 institutions are expected to at least double their capacity to collectively enrol 20,000 students on an annual basis in both long-term and short term training programs in the targeted disciplines.
A quality demand-driven Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system can be a powerful engine for youth skills development leading to employment and poverty alleviation, and for economic restructuring and transformation, as already demonstrated in the Republic of Korea, Singapore and China, where TVET has been used as an instrument and channel for technology transfer and skills upgrading of workers.
The project supports the development of highly specialized TVET programs as well as industry-recognised short term certificate level training, and will target regional priority sectors in transport, energy, manufacturing and ICT.