KEYNOTE STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY FORMER PRESIDENT DR. JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE, CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF DAR ES SALAAM ON THE LAUNCHING OF THE GENERATION EMPOWER 21ST CENTURY SKILLS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DAR ES SALAAM, 4TH DECEMBER, 2020
Prof. William Andey-Lazaro Anangisye, Vice Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam,
Prof. Bernadetta Killian, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) of the University of Dar es Salaam,
Dr. Ambrose Itika – Director, University of Dar es Salaam Centre of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (UDIEC)
Mr. Joseph Manirakiza – Country Director, Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF)
Madame Miranda Naiman – Founder & Managing Director, Empower
Gen Empower participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very grateful to be here this morning to launch the Generation Empower program, a five-year partnership program between the University of Dar es Salaam and Empower Limited which aims at preparing our University graduates with necessary skills for 21st Century labour market.
This programme could not be launched at a better time than this. Just yesterday and few days ago, I presided over a convocation to award degrees to our graduates in our two constituent colleges of Mbeya and Iringa (MUCE). And I look forward to seeing off another cohort of our graduates next week here in University of Dar es Salaam main campus and DUCE on 8th, 10th and 15th December.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have joined this great University as a Chancellor in 2016. Whenever I seat on the Chancellor’s Chair to award degrees to our graduates, I take notice of the anxiety and fears that hides beneath the joyfulness of our graduates. You can tell, their excitement to graduate, is immediately meeting with the reality of unemployment ahead of them.
This fear is real. And it frustrates students and parents alike. It makes some to start questioning the benefit of having a university degree if it cannot guarantee someone a job, an employment or a decent living. Some of us become victims too. I receive many calls, many sms, many visits from people asking for help to secure employment. Much as I understand their need and frustrations, I cannot help either. That feeling of being helpless eats me alike.
This fear was not there 45 years ago when I graduated from this University. Jobs were looking for us and not us looking for the job. In every graduation, the government Manpower Committee will come to University to scout and allocate jobs to the graduates. You could be offered up to 3 posts for you to choose. Simply, the skills that University gave us those days, were very much aligned with the needs of the labour market, which by then was predominantly the public sector. Gone are the days when University certificate was the only key you needed to open any door of opportunities. Today, strong GPA is good, but it is not all that employers need at the workplace. Other set of skills, the soft skills are equally important.
I took interest to reach out to my many contacts and hear what they have to say about this cry of many of our university graduates. Among many responses I get, a repetitive and a notorious one is that which claims that our University graduates are lacking soft skills necessary to make them employable. Or rather to say, there has been fundamental shifts in the job market that makes skills that we teach, and knowledge that we impact in our Universities, not sufficient or has been overtaken by events.
This cry is quite universal and not limited to Tanzania. Actually, it is a cry across the world but more pronounced in Africa. I happened to be a member of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity chaired by Right Honourable Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The findings of our Commission contained in our report ‘The Learning Generation’ revealed the existing perennial problem of skills mismatch between University as the supply side and employers as the demand side.
The scary part of our observation was that, by 2050, about 2 billion jobs will be lost to automation, above half of them will be in Africa. That is to say, without taking deliberate measures to prepare our youth with the skills of the future, the future will not belong to them. The Commission recommends to governments to come up with innovations that respond to the labour market. Those may require among many review of existing curriculum to align with the changes in the world of work and introducing other aspects of knowledge and skills that augment existing curriculums. Universities are not spared. They have to adapt or else, many Universities will become obsolete and irrelevant.
Another development worth noting were the series of studies undertaken by the World Economic Forum (WEF) since 2016 on the ‘Future of Work’. They have come up with the list of 10 skills that will be important for one to survive in the 4th Industrial Revolution world that is already with us. These skills are complex problem solving; critical thinking; creativity; people management; coordinating with others; emotional intelligence; judgement and decision making; service orientation; negotiations and cognitive flexibility. Many of the skills we used to boast of in the past, can be done better by super computers and machine learning technology.
It pleases me that our University is taking a step in the right direction. I commend the leadership of the University under our able Vice Chancellor, Prof. William Anangisye for being this responsive. In a special way, I am particularly pleased to see Prof. Benadetta Killian taking charge as its patron. Most important, this initiative is a partnership with the Private Sector which is our biggest employer in Tanzania.
I am delighted that the firm that is spearheading this initiative is the Empower. A young, local, disruptive and vibrant human resource firm in the market led by an illustrious young lady Miranda Naiman. You can see and feel the energy of them in their very young and dynamic team. Younger as they are, the Empower team is better placed to understand the perceptions, drivers and dynamism of our young graduates. Also, their rich experience in the labour market, particularly working with corporates in Tanzania, gives them an edge when it comes to linking the demand and supply sides of the labour market.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am told we are starting with 250 candidates. Not so much compared to the size of our demand but certainly its better than nothing. I am glad that this is a 5-year program, and my hope is that, in the coming years, you will see into it an opportunity to expand this program in both size and scope. More important, that you will track the progress of those who will come out of this program and use their experience and feedback to improve this program as we go along.
You can therefore tell how happy I am as Chancellor of this great University to join you today to grace the launching of the Generation Empower. My plea to the University is to harness the change and be ahead of the curve. Our University can no longer claim that it is only concerned with impacting knowledge and not about where the students go or what they do after they graduate. That is an old thinking.
Prestigious Universities in the world, the likes of ivy-league and counterparts are now focusing on employability. They are working to find innovative solutions to help their students to have a smooth landing into the labour market. They are working in partnership with private sector and firms to have tailored and responsive award programs. We have every reason to emulate these good examples. I beseech that you commission an annual study about the status of our graduates to help in informing us about how best our students fair in the local, regional and global job markets. A University of our stature must be able to tell in figures and anecdotes the success of our graduates.
If we are to remain relevant, this University therefore, must answer to this crisis of our time of jobless graduates. I am delighted that the program we are launching today is a step in that direction. We must go further to see how best we can do to help those who wish to go for self-employment. We must ask ourselves a question, how helpful and useful our University can be to help them to create jobs for themselves and others? Answers to this question and that of employability, will make our University and degrees it offers, relevant.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Definitely, new times, call for new approaches. The Generation Empower is one of them. I am very optimistic about this initiative and It is the reason why I am here today. Normally, a Chancellor will not attend this kind of program in the University. But I decided to, knowing its importance to the situation we are in and where we are headed to. You have all of my blessings and support.
To you our candidates, my word to you is: “take this opportunity seriously and give it your best shot”. I want you to demonstrate the difference between those who missed this opportunity and you. I want you to become the Ambassadors of this University and this program to your potential employers. Let them see through you the need to partner and invest with Generation Empower Program in the future, and open doors to many other candidates to come. I wish you all the very best.
With these many words, I thank you for your kind attention!
By Empower Limited on 08 Dec 2020