University of Tourism, Technology, and Business Studies (UTB), in partnership with the government, has launched a new innovative, research-based, and inclusive digital platform project (INNODIP) that will boost existing government efforts to create off-farm jobs including disabled persons.
The government has been actively promoting innovation and economic development as part of its national development strategy to reach its targets of creating more jobs for youths.
Rwanda targets to create 1.5 million off-farm jobs by 2024 to reduce youth unemployment, and at least 214,000 jobs were to be created annually since 2017.
Rwanda’s economy registered 7.5% growth in the second quarter of 2022 following a 7.9% growth in the first quarter and mainly driven by the industry, energy, agriculture, trade and hospitality, and financial services sectors the lack of connection between the needed skills and employer needs has been one of the gaps in the process.
The project launched this February comes after the university conducted research that showed a wide mismatch and gap of skills between academia and industry where both lacked available information on skilled labor and employment opportunities.
William Mudahemuka, the INNODIP Project Team Leader stated that the new web-based platform will address this information gap by conducting research on the job market needs and collecting data and information on potential employees.
“The current market employers have no information on available skilled labor and have been conducting their own research to find out but we will be doing this for them using our professional academic research skills, Mudahemuka said, the success of this Rwandan- made platform will be replicated in other countries as a benchmark product.
Mudahemuka revealed the platform will also connect skilled Rwandan graduates to the Dubai and Qatar market where the UTB has already created internship and job placing partnership with big employers in the Arab world where they have sent at least 700 tourism and hospitality students and employees.
The Ministry of ICT and Innovation Digital Readiness, Senior Technologist, Lambert Ntagwabira, stated that they are counting on UTB Rwanda to succeed in this project which the ministry had thought of implementing but was not materialized in due time.
“We had this same project in mind but since you have implemented it before us, we commit our full support to its success, sharing our ideas as a way of improving existing solutions,” Lambert Ntagwabira said.
Ntagwabira said that the project adds on other existing platforms and innovations to tackle employment-related issues but INNODIP has a comparative advantage of using academia and research.
Ntagwabira revealed that the INNODIP project will be added and elevated to the national innovation initiative category just like the Kigali Innovation City, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Africa, African Institute of Mathematical Sciences Rwanda (AIMS), and the African Leadership University (ALU).
Job opportunities for disadvantaged graduates
The INNODIP project will not only focus on the UTB but all universities and private and government-employed institutions but also bring on board advocacy organizations dealing with special clusters of persons with disabilities and low incomes.
National Union of Disability Organizations of Rwanda (NUDOR) advocacy officer, Marie Louise Mukangoga said that the platform will be a new opening for disabled persons to get jobs without being discriminated against due to their disabilities.
She stated that most persons with physical limitations or disabilities are judged by their appearance and not their other capacity and this has caused stigmatization for many to not apply for jobs.
This is an opportunity that will help us to fight the existing stigma in workplaces and society in general. It will be one’s skills to be evaluated and not how they walk or look alike,” Mukangoga said.
The Vice-Chancellor of UTB, Prof. Dr. Simeon Wiehler said that this will not only directly connect skilled graduate databases to the industrial labor market but also solve the problem of former graduates who have no direct connections to the job industry.
For Rwanda, RDB this platform is an added asset to the established RDB online job information portal, career guidance, and labor market opportunities alongside the three existing employment services centers (in Kigali, Huye, and Musanze) and placing over 1,000 interns in both public and private institutions over the last 10 years.
“The launched project is an asset that adds value to what we have been doing. So, let’s join efforts to optimize the impact of the interventions that we are implementing,” said Abdou Musonera, the RDB Labour market analyst on behalf of the CEO Clare Akamanzi.
The all-government and private-sector inclusive project will be supported by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UKAid) and Research and Innovation for Africa (RISA).