Private sector urged to support youth employment campaign

The City of Kigali has called on the private sector to engage job seekers on the labour market to curb unemployment.
Youth at Kigali Employment Service Centre. (John Mbanda)
Youth at Kigali Employment Service Centre. (John Mbanda)

The City of Kigali has called on the private sector to engage job seekers on the labour market to curb unemployment.

The call was made during an employment stakeholders’ dialogue organised by Kigali Employment Service Centre (KESC), on Thursday.

The City of Kigali deputy mayor in charge of Social Affairs, Hope Tumukunde Gasatura, told businesspersons and human resource managers that availing internships and job opportunities is not only good for their businesses, but also an additional value to national development.

“We just can’t complain of lack of skills among job seekers when we don’t offer them opportunity to prove themselves. Internships would be an avenue to improving skills of those available on the labour market,” said Tumukunde.

A year ago, KESC was launched as an employment service centre to help connect job seekers to prospective employers.

The centre also facilitates both skilled and semi-skilled job seekers to access information on job opportunities, career guidance and counselling services aligned to the needs of today’s labour market.

KESC has 1,252 registered job seekers, placed 209 in jobs in different organisations, while 45 are doing internships.

At least 51 per cent of those who found jobs received direct help from KESC.

“When a country has many job seekers, it’s a negative implication on the national development. We don’t want to be in that situation,” Tumukunde said.

Increasing youth employment opportunities is one of the major objectives of the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRSII).

Available reports indicate that, on average, 125,000 youths from tertiary institutions join the labour market every year. However, only 104,000 jobs are created in the same time interval, leaving a gap of over 20,000 youth unemployed.

Vision 2020, the government’s development blueprint, seeks to have a private sector-driven economy. This is expected to be reached through promoting skills and encouraging entrepreneurship among youth.

The National Youth Council has earmarked Rwf57 million for funding youth initiatives at the district level.

Call for skills development

Jean Mukunzi, the head of human resource management at Ecobank Rwanda, said there is need to equip more youth with the necessary skills to minimise cases of hiring expatriates.

“The quality of workforce is still wanting. We even find it so hard to transfer some of them to international branches, forcing us to hire experts. We need to focus on skills development,” said Mukunzi.

Jack Hodari, the in-charge of capacity building at Mt. Kenya University, said promoting skills will be the ultimate difference in having competent job seekers who will match international labour market standards.

Meanwhile, Frank Mukama, the chairperson of Youth Employment System (Yes), said unemployment concerns everyone.

“Unemployment is a humanitarian issue; it can always be a major economic and security threat if not addressed. That is why we advocate for all possible measures to have youth working,” he said.

Speaking at a separate function on unemployment, Mukama said government should consider 100 per cent financing of youth entrepreneurship projects to promote private sector development as a tool to achieve EDPRSII  agenda.

The government, through Business Development Fund (BDF), has moved to ease access to finance for youth and women entrepreneurs seeking to start small and medium enterprises.

BDF guarantees credit for SMEs up to 75 per cent.