Soft Skills an Employability Enabler: The Hi5 Professional Development Course

Overview
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Institution: Jobortunity Training Institute

Tanzania has a high unemployment rate amongst youth, while various industry sectors are struggling to fill positions with suitable staff. A lack of educational opportunities or dropping out of formal schooling,  are two factors that contribute to the unemployment rates.  A shortage of qualified teachers and inadequate infrastructure, further hamper occupational education and training.

Jobortunity Training Institute is a social enterprise established in 2009 to assist young people between 18 to 25 years (specifically secondary school drop-outs) to access job opportunities in the service industry. It does this by offering a programme, which translates the needs of this sector into the 21st century ‘soft skills’ combined with workplace placements for job-specific occupational training.

Good Practice Approach

The Hi5 Professional Development course is a one-year course four months of classroom-based training and an eight-month apprenticeship.

Two core approaches structure the methodology, 3H and Hi5,  based on active and practical learning-by-doing.  

  • 3H is the Head (knowledge of the service industry), Hands (practical skills) and Heart (attitudes); Hi5 refers to the clusters of soft skills, which infuse the entire curriculum.

  • The Hi5 soft skills include communication, work ethics, positive attitudes, teamwork and time management. These skills provide indicators for observing, tracking and evaluating students’ progress and work-readiness throughout the programme.

 

The 3H and Hi5 components of the Hi5 Professional Development Programme

  • Partnering with employers for the delivery of the knowledge and practical skills required in the service industry means that students gain work experience while they are learning, entering a workplace with this experience — the approach used is called Work-integrated learning or a workplace-based facilitates successful occupational training and skills development.

  • Young people gain employability and transferable skills; impacting on personal and professional growth beyond the programme.

  • Evidence shows that many students gain employment with the placement employer, which in turn has trickle-down effects about students’ families.

  • The service industry employers benefit by having access to low-cost recruits who are already well-trained in generic workplace behaviours, and therefore more receptive to training according to workplace-specific occupational roles and responsibilities.

  • While there is a fee for the programme, Jobortunity makes every effort to place those who cannot afford to pay; this is done, for example, through a sliding scale for fees, and scholarship programmes. The programme is also partly subsidised by employers during the workplace placements.

  • Students are provided feedback on their performance and progress based on continuous monitoring and observation.

Key Results

Milestones achieved from 2009 to February 2019 include: 

  • 75% of Graduates in jobs since 2009

  • 75 Partnerships with hospitality companies, of which 33 active partners training students in almost every class,

  • 32 people completed the  in-house Training of Trainers (TOT) curriculum and Hi5 approach

  • 4 Jobortunity graduates graduated as Hi5 Trainer:

Lessons Learnt (Success Factors & Challenges)
  • Establishing and maintaining close relationships with companies in the private sector has allowed Jobortunity to influence their perspective about the importance of soft skills and to facilitate the placement of students.  Employer views have shifted over time as they experienced the benefit and value. Gained by having new entrants with soft skills on which to build occupational competencies.

  • The hospitality industry can be a  harsh environment; students sometimes experience bullying or sexual harassment. These challenging situations enable mentors to provide them with the tools to tackle the problem through relationship management and company processes.

  • Integrating technology into delivery and monitoring of the programme has become important so that a rigorous evaluation of the intervention and its impact can take place. One programme evaluation took place in 2015, with an updated assessment planned for 2019.

  • Information communication technologies (ICT) is a  critical workplace skill, primary computer and digital literacy skills, as well as social media training, have been added to the curriculum.

  • Significant challenges exist in taking the programme to scale through the public sector due to a lack of receptiveness to the idea of soft skills training and commitment to other priorities identified by the government.

  • Another challenge is the current accreditation system which is not set up to allow formal certification for equivalent training received outside the system. However, one of the national Tourism TVET colleges will deliver the programme, and these students will receive certificates which represent both the college and Jobortunity. This type of agreement suggests growing recognition from the public TVET sector and is the first step towards accreditation.

 

MOVING FORWARD ….

Many components of the Hi5 programme are suitable for replication. As soft skills are cross-cutting and are required in nearly all workplace environments, the methodology itself can be adapted for other sectors, including technical, trade and industry settings. Routes for replication could include public/private partnerships with existing institutions, or a franchise model in which Jobortunity plays a quality assurance role.

About sustainability, a crucial area for exploration is that of accreditation for the Hi5 programme, whether this is in Tanzania itself or through other routes on the continent.

 

RESOURCES

To read more detailed information about the programme, go to the Jobortunity website http://www.jobortunity.org/