Employers have for long complained about unskilled graduates, a problem that affects most job-seekers’ chances of getting jobs. As a result a cross-section of people and experts have called for the overhaul of the education system to ensure that graduates meet market demand.
Business Times’ Peterson Tumwebaze caught up with Eugenia, Kayitesi, the executive director of the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research Rwanda (IPAR), and she talks about this and other issues, including how to address the challenge of youth unemployment across the region.
Briefly tell us about the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research Rwanda (IPAR)?
IPAR is an independent, non-profit research and analysis think tank. It became fully functional in 2008 with the support of Africa Capacity Building Fund and International Development Research Centre, with the initial start up support from government of Rwanda.
You recently conducted a study on the relationship between education system and unemployment among other issues. What do you think is the problem?
The problem of youth unemployment begins with producing job-seekers and not job creators; graduates who cannot come up with innovative ideas that can be translated into jobs.
Therefore, the idea was to try and come up with innovative approaches that will accommodate the youth into the job market.
There is also need to differentiate between unemployment and underemployment.
We should also find out the level of unemployment across all sectors, as well as address the challenge of school dropouts.
What should be done to address these challenges?
The youth must change their attitude towards certain jobs or sectors, including agriculture.
Overall, more investment in agriculture, services and manufacturing sectors is needed to create more job opportunities. We also need to embrace agro-processing to create more employment opportunities.
We need home-grown solutions that will be able to create the type of jobs the youth are looking for.
So, we need policy reforms that will ensure the education system is practical-oriented.
There is also the need to ensure the education system is relevant as far as market demand is concerned so that students are equipped with the right skills to make them employable and competitive.
What about the issue of minimum wage?
Before we talk about minimum wage, we need to first create jobs then we can promote minimum wage across sectors.
What are your last thoughts on the issue of unemployment?
Let us have empirical evidence on the matter and work towards providing strong linkages between what the market wants and what we are producing presently.
We don’t want to produce graduates who will not be able to create jobs for themselves, or who are unemployable.