Top Hiring Challenges for Businesses in Tanzania

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Hiring challenges in Tanzania require changes in education

While employers everywhere face challenges when hiring new employees, it’s common knowledge that finding quality highly skilled workers is especially difficult in Tanzania. The thing is, like with many developing countries, Tanzania’s problematic education system and poverty is to blame for producing its mostly under-skilled workforce. In fact, most Tanzanians of working age aren’t even part of the highly-skilled workforce, instead, they work in agriculture, laborers, and service workers. This is because:

  •      Many schools (especially in rural areas) continue to have a high student to teacher ratio (60 students taught by one teacher), this means that teachers have less time to engage with students who may need extra help
  •      Many schools also continue to lack the needed resources for students to learn in a healthy environment (desks, chairs, books)
  •      Poverty forces many students to leave school early and find jobs to support themselves and their families

Nevertheless, there are some Tanzanians who do make it through the education system, obtain university degrees, and join the pool of professional workers. However, many of them are also not employable or qualify as the top-tier candidates that employers want to hire. In fact, here are 7 hiring challenges that businesses in Tanzania face.

*Disclaimer: The point of highlighting these hiring challenges is not to discourage or bash the workforce in Tanzania, but quite contrary, by recognizing our shortcomings we also create an opportunity for improvement.

  1.     Lack of English and communication skills

Tanzanians are notoriously known in East Africa for having terrible English. The thing is, for the longest time public schools used Swahili as the language of instruction until high school where it switched to English. In 2015, it was announced that high school classes will also be conducted in Swahili. As a result, English is reduced to a lesson like any other, and students have minimal opportunities to practice it. So chances are, unless you went to a top-tier highly selective public school or a private English medium schools, your ability to communicate in English will be highly limited.

This is difficult for many employers as for most mid to big companies in Tanzania, English is the official language of communication, especially if the company is dealing with partners or clients internationally or who represent an international entity.

  1. High rates of employee turnover

Ok, so an employer goes through the whole recruitment process and finally settles on a candidate, and then a couple of months later the candidate leaves for a better offer – this is very common in Tanzania. People will accept the job for the sake of accepting it, but not because they really want it. Moreover, because the pool of skilled workers is so low, chances are if you find a quality candidate you want, someone else wants them also.

However, an easy way to avoid this problem is to use a recruitment agency to find employees, as they usually tend to greatly vet their candidates and will replace the employee for you (free of charge) if they leave within a timeframe (usually the first 6 months).

  1. False representation

It’s not uncommon for people around the world to exaggerate about job roles and responsibilities they’ve had in the past. But in Tanzania, some people make up entire job positions, and can even lie about universities they’ve attended.

Once again, a solution is to either do your own thorough research on candidates you are interested in or use a recruitment agency that does background checks on all potential job candidates. They will find out if they are lying, and save your time.  

  1. High pool of unqualified candidates

The unemployment rate in Tanzania is above 10% , resulting in a lot of people, usually between the ages of 18 -26 desperately looking for work. As a result, on average, employers can receive almost 100 applications for a single job position. And usually, most of the people aren’t even qualified, they are just trying their luck.

Therefore, hiring new people can be an incredibly time-consuming process for the employer and HR staff.

  1. Outdated recruiting techniques

Many HR offices still rely on old-school recruiting techniques, ‘mostly word-of-mouth’ or their existing client list to find potential candidates. This is a wasted opportunity as top-tier candidates are easier to find than ever before thanks to the internet.

Nowadays recruiters should be relying on professional networks like LinkedIn, company staff profiles, and professional job boards like BrighterMonday’s to allocate the best talent in different industries.

What can employees do? Use the internet wisely

While changing the Tanzanian education system for the better is a task that will take years, what can each of us start doing today to make ourselves more employable?

Instead of spending all your data bundles on YouTube videos and streaming movies, there are plenty of free online courses that can help you improve your English skills, as well as other job-specific skills you need to perform your best in your chosen field. Also, you can take courses that will help with improving soft skills like critical thinking, leadership, and becoming a self-learner.

What can employers do? Use recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies in Tanzania understand the unique hiring challenges that businesses in the country face and operate to help you overcome them. As mentioned before, they can help you:

  •      Find employers with the right communication, job-related, and soft skills you are looking for
  •      Conduct background checks on candidates
  •      Deal with the high volume of job applications you receive
  •      Choose candidates that really want the job, versus those that see it as a ‘just for now’/temporary position
Iman Lipumba
A digital storyteller, experienced in creating content that improves website visibility on search engines, enhances the user experience, and nurtures brand loyalty. With a background in the social sciences, an expert in researching complex ideas, and communicating them in engaging language to multiple audiences.