Govt in new push to improve skills of graduates, reduce unemployment

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Job-seekers registered during a job fair organised by the Kigali Employment Service Centre recently. An initiative that seeks to improve skills graduates to make them more employable has been unveiled.

Fresh graduates, as well as students from universities and other higher learning institutions, particularly those studying from abroad, will now find it easy to secure internships and industry trainings, thanks to a new initiative by government.

Under the programme, Diaspora students and fresh graduates from local universities and colleges will be connected with potential employers for internships, apprenticeships and industry training placements, a move that seeks to build their skills and increase their chances of getting employed.

The development comes on the heels of discovery by the government showing that many students who go abroad for studies do not come back, mainly because they are detached from the local job market, according to Anna Mugabo, the head of the national employment programme (CESB). The trend that has increased brain drain of skilled labourforce required to drive the country’s development agenda, she added.

Mugabo noted that the programme would, therefore, expose Diaspora and other students to the available opportunities in the country so that “they come back and serve their country” besides giving other students opportunities to sharpen their skills and knowledge during the long vacation.

Speaking to over 300 Diaspora students, Mugabo said the initiative is timely and would benefit students and graduates alike. She explained that presently only students that have reached the internship stage at the universities, particularly finalists, are accepted by companies for placement, something that will change under the new initiative.

The official called on firms and all stakeholders to support the project, noting that this is essential to skill the workforce besides helping reduce youth unemployment.

The programme that will be an annual event slated for every June, will also provide entrepreneurial skills and job trainings for graduates and students. Figures indicate that Rwanda’s unemployment rate is at 4.1 per cent, with youth and fresh graduates constituting the biggest percentage. About 146,000 jobs are created annually, according to the Capacity Development and Employment Services Board.

Speaking at the launch, Celestin Kabeera, the SME capacity building specialist at Rwanda Development Board, challenged the students to always work hard and “turn their internship into permanent jobs.”

“Be keen learners and acquire all the necessary skills and practices so that you are absorbed into the organisation’s workforce. This way, you will be able to contribute to the Made-in-Rwanda campaign and help the country reduce import bills,” Kabeera said.

He, however, urged youth to be innovative and develop business ideas, saying government supports bankable and scalable projects through the youth guarantee fund run by Business Development Fund (BDF). He challenged the Diaspora students to always keep updated on local job market needs so that they tailor their training to suit those demands.

He also reiterated government’s call for industrialisation to support job-creation and boost exports, saying sectors like construction and manufacturing still import a lot.

Regis Mugiraneza, the co-founder and director of CARL Group, which makes bread from sweet potatoes, advised the youth to be risk takers and join the entrepreneurship world, adding that starting a business requires passion, sacrifice and hard work, among others.

“Don’t use the issue of lack of capital and shy away from starting a business. Small businesses and start-ups can always survive with little investment, but a lot of dedication and hard work are a must,” he said. He added that the youth constitute almost 70 per cent of the country population, a situation they can leverage to create jobs for themselves and spur growth.

The private sector players, officials from RDB, Ministry of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs, as well as young entrepreneurs graced the launch of initiative last week in Kigali.