Who Will Fix Rwanda’s Unemployment Puzzle?

A Youth working on a motor vehicle engine. Youth unemployment is still a big challenge in Rwanda
A Youth working on a motor vehicle engine. Youth unemployment is still a big challenge in Rwanda

Florien Rurihose, graduated in Microbiology at former Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) in 2012, but failed to get a job because there was no one to offer him a job with his skills.

After an endless search for a job without success, Rurihose decided to seek extra training in rural development.

The skills he acquired gave him a chance to get employed as a field technical officer for Duterimbere, a women’s development organization.

Every year, Rwandan universities roll out over 20,000 graduates into the job market, but only 22 percent of them are salaried employees while the rest are either self-employed or jobless.

“It is not easy to discover that you are not employable after studies, because of the skills you have. At the end of the day one has to be creative and get extra training, otherwise most of my colleagues have remained unemployed,” Rurihose says.

Youth unemployment in Rwanda was a focus of discussion this Friday at the consultative workshop hosted in Kigali during which experts said that there is need for a game change to create more jobs for the youths.

Currently, the national unemployment level is at 3.4 percent, but urban unemployment is shooting in the roof, now at roughly 9%.

Eugenia Kayitesi, the Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research-(IPAR) Rwanda, says that for Rwanda to successfully address youth employment challenges, research and evidence should be at the core of policy design and implementation.

Areas where there is need for immediate attention is, among others, creation of new financial incentives which will increase youth entrepreneurship and research to inform policy makers.

Most experts agree that there isn’t enough research work done to inform policy.

Rebson Dzara, the Managing Director of Linkage Point says; “We need to do a profound research on what kind of education is need, so that we can develop careers that actually respond to the needs of the community.”

Although Rwanda has policies that enable youth employment and access to finance, many experts say that these policies have not been translated and reflected to the direct beneficiaries.

For example access to finance for small entrepreneurs still remains a challenge as banks keep tight nuts on loans.

Innocent Bulindi, the Chief Executive Officer of The Business Development Fund, notes that despite existence of employment promotion policies, they don’t directly translate into jobs and the private sector (financial) is stuck to its rules.

“The finance sector doesn’t see youth as an attractive sector and also a risky one, and that is why we are asking researchers to come up with new financial models we can use to bridge gaps of lack of access to finance,” Bulindi says.

Most experts, however, believe youth unemployment is facilitated by poor education systems and poor mindsets.

Andrew Kanyonya, the Director of Business Development at New Kigali Designers and Justus Iyamuremye, of ActionAid Rwanda says that youth in Rwanda have not been creative and not thinking out of the box to create jobs and identify their own passions.

“Youths need to think big and go for careers that will help and also looking at the changing trends of the times” Kanyonya says.

Youths don’t prepare themselves for the future and they spend time in school without knowing what the market wants. Mentoring them at family level, outside school as a collective responsibility will enable them be creative and prepare for life” Iyamuremye says.

Participants at the consultative workshop hosted in Kigali aimed at finding solutions to Youth Unemployment
Participants at the consultative workshop hosted in Kigali aimed at finding solutions to Youth Unemployment



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