ILO – Rama Sagama had been unemployed for three years in Tabata, a fast growing high-density suburb in Tanzania’s largest city of Dar es Salaam. The trek of about 10 kilometres to get to the Tanzania Employment Services Agency (TaESA) offices in the city centre made it even more difficult for him to find work. However, Sagama finally found a job through the agency as a procurement officer at DHL’s offices in Dar es Salaam.
In future, thanks to the addition of donated computers, Sagama and other job seekers will be able to use the agency’s services without having to leave home. Aided by technology, TaESA’s offices have become an innovative one-stop job centre because it allows job seekers and employers to register and interact remotely via the Internet. Currently only about 13 per cent of the Tanzanian population are Internet users.
In Tanzania, the general rate of unemployment is 11.7 per cent while youth unemployment stands at 13.4 per cent. In Zanzibar, the jobless rate for youth is even higher, at 17.1 per cent.
Although the country that boasts such tourist attractions as Mount Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro crater and 16 natural parks has improved its economic prospects through tourism, it is still one of the world’s poorest nations with nearly 68 per cent of its population living below $1.25 a day.
TaESA’s Labour Market Information System has been open since July, 2008 but the addition of technology makes it a one-stop centre for job seekers.
It is also, unfortunately, the only one of its kind in Tanzania. “The center should provide its services in all regions in the country,” Sagama says.
The International Labour Organization’s Flora Minja, National Programme Coordinator: Employment Policies, under the United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP) said that the ILO donated eight computers with central processing units, monitors, a scanner and printer. “With the help of this technology, job seekers can easily interact online with employers,” she says.
According to Tanzania’s Labour and employment ministry, the country intends to generate more than 700,000 new employment opportunities in 2014.
So far, over 630,000 employment opportunities have been created in agriculture, education, construction, energy and minerals, health, small-scale enterprises, communications and the private sector.
“The one-stop centre will potentially help to reach those goals by linking job seekers to employers through providing information on the available job vacancies,” says Boniface Chandaruba, acting CEO of TaESA.
Edwin Kikuli is the Managing Director of Infratech Limited in Dar es Salaam. As an employer, he says he has used the on-site centre in the past when he was looking for an office assistant. He plans to use the digital service the next time he is recruiting staff.
“It will definitely help me in my recruitment efforts. And it will save me time as I can do it in the convenience of my office,” says Kikuli.
He has only one tip for the centre’s improvement: “I also hope they will publicize it more to the public.”
Getting the system onto portable handheld devices like mobile phones and iPads is an eventual goal, but it’s currently constrained by low Internet bandwidth and limited usage of the web. And, says Chandaruba, “We are still waiting for some technical advice and authority from the Ministry of Labour and Employment.”
Clearly, the numbers of job seekers and employers show a need for a digitally-functional job center. In the six years since TaESA opened shop, a total of 1,138 employers have been visited and 14,095 jobseekers have been registered. Over 7,272 jobseekers have been connected with employers and over 1,315 job vacancies with 3,281 openings have been registered.
Real jobs for people
The project coordinator, Minja, explains that the job seekers centre is a good example of how policies can translate into real jobs for people.
Decent employment creation remains a central priority throughout Africa, where only a quarter of the total labour force has stable, wage-paying jobs and over 60 per cent of all unemployed people are youth.
Minja says that “Well-designed employment programmes and compliance with minimum wages can promote real jobs, stimulate domestic demand and provide a better income distribution.”
“At the same time,” she adds, “better labour policies reduce poverty, one of the core post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.”