Knowing the exact composition of its labour force enables countries to implement policies that increase participation in the economy, reduce unemployment and poverty, and increase the wellbeing of its people. This is even more relevant in developing countries, and Tanzania is no exception.
Mary Donald Aiwinia, a Senior Statistician in Tanzania’s Ministry of Labour, Youth, Employment and People with Disabilities in the Office of the Prime Minister, attributes the contribution she made in drafting this country’s integrated Labour Force Survey in 2014 to the knowledge she gained in her Masters in Governance and Public Policy, completed with the support of Australia Awards at the University of Queensland in 2012.
Her role as a statistician in this project was to generate relevant statistics, analyse data and advise decision makers on the importance of using this data as evidence in policy making. During this process, she collaborated with government ministries, departments, agencies, private sector associations, employers’ and workers’ associations, researchers, academics, development partners, as well as non-governmental and community-based organisations.
According to Mary, the integrated Labour Force Survey was successful in collecting the labour market information and socio-economic data required for policy formulation and decision-making processes. “The findings of this survey enabled policy makers to monitor and evaluate the country’s national development frameworks, such as Tanzania’s Vision 2025 and the Millennium Development Goals in respect of economic growth and the reduction of income poverty,” she says.
Due to her contribution to the Labour Force Survey, Mary subsequently participated in the design and preparation of the country’s Draft National Employment Policy 2017, initiated in 2016 in Dodoma and Dar es Salaam. This was an outcome of the review of Tanzania’s National Employment Policy for 2008. “What makes this policy so significant,” she says, “is the fact that it is a real-life policy developed from the analytical report of the existing integrated Labour Force Survey of 2014.”
She believes that the skills and knowledge she gained in her Masters studies gave her the ability to work independently. Thus, she could build a working team, give comments, provide advice and contribute to the planned tasks with confidence. She was also able to take advantage of the Alumni network, created with peers from different countries.
Mary received constant support during the project. She was able to consult individuals from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the main funder of the project, and the University of Dar es Salaam and Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA), the technical advisors. She also benefitted from the contribution of her Australia Awards Alumni network, who had a diverse and wide knowledge in policy making. “Alumni who shared the experiences of their own countries assisted in answering some pertinent questions and enabled me to clarify some issues that were unclear,” she said.
“Although the draft policy is due to be submitted to Cabinet for approval soon, its implementation has not yet started. However, once approved, it is anticipated that the implementation of this policy will start in the new financial year. Once implemented, Tanzania’s National Employment Policy will promote the creation of decent employment, reduce unemployment and under-employment, and enhance labour productivity. It will benefit the whole country, either directly or indirectly, including the leaders who are expected to execute the policy, youth, women and people with disabilities, and all other stakeholders,” she says. As such, it is predicted that the draft will have a positive impact on vulnerable groups in Tanzania, a key imperative of any sustainable national employment policy for developing countries.