Youth unemployment sparks off collective EAC education standards drive



dk sezibera

Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera, EAC Secretary General: Work experience is critical and needs to be addressed

The Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) intends to develop a special programme that will bring employers to offer work experience programs to students in response to the increasing frustration among young jobseekers in the East African Community (EAC) region.

At least 50 percent of young graduates lose job opportunities in the region as most employers say work experience is a critical factor when recruiting, Prof Mayunga Nkunya, the IUCEA Executive Secretary, has said.

Prof. Nkunya was speaking earlier this week after Tanzania’s Vice President Dr Mohammed Gharib Bilal had officially launched the 6th Annual General Meeting, organised to provide a forum to deliberate on matters pertinent to the development of higher education and research.

Tanzanian government statistics indicate that the country’s unemployment rate stood at 11.7 per cent in 2012 from 10.7 percent in 2011.

Yet, the Executive Secretary said there are more youth without employment leading to the emergence of “jobs without workers and workers without jobs” syndrome across the globe.

Prof Nkunya highlighted that the high level academic council in the region is also developing appropriate tools to facilitate the operationalization of a regional quality assurance system and an East African Qualifications Framework in higher education.

He emphasised that the programmes are crucial for implementing a number of interventions aimed at promoting integration of the EAC Partner States towards transforming the region into a common market.

“It is imperative that the higher education fraternity in our region address dynamics by reviewing the way the higher education system is managed and its role in development of human resources and innovations that are appropriately supported by purposeful research,” he noted.

Analysts say East Africa and the world is experiencing rigorous dynamics in higher education and the overall human resources development agenda.

The quest for nations to transform into knowledge driven economies requires the provision of good quality and credible education, they argue.

Earlier, Vice President Mohammed Bilal had expressed serious concerns that the quality of graduates does not meet qualifications of today’s labour market.

He pointed out that the labour market has persistently complained about the lack of important skills like communication, decision-making, problem solving, leadership, social ethics as well as ability to work with people from different backgrounds.

“It is expected that in a globally competitive labour market, graduates need to work within multicultural and multinational workplace environments,” the Vice President said, adding that this must be consolidated “with adequate professional attributes or competencies.”

He challenged participants to seek solutions for the future in a bid to meet the expectations of society as skilled human resources and as drivers of socio-economic development and societal transformation.

The EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera noted that the question of working experience is critical and needs to be addressed in order to drive the complete implementation of the common market.

He announced that appropriate tools for facilitating operationalization of a regional quality assurance system and an East African Qualifications Framework in higher education will be completed this year.

IUCEA Chairperson Dr Janvere Ndirahisa noted that as the region moves closer to extracting oil and gas, it necessitates competent young people to be innovative to help in the transformation of the region’s development activities.