Dealing with youth unemployment calls for research-based policies, experts from different disciplines have said.
Employers, policy makers, educational officials made the observation last week during a youth employment and consultative workshop organised by Institute for Policy Analysis and Research, IPAR.
During the workshop, various causes of both unemployment and underemployment were explored before participants drew conclusions on robust innovative approaches to end the exclusion of youth from the labour market.
Rose Mary Mbabazi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and ICT, acknowledged that although youth unemployment is still a nationwide challenge, it could be addressed through skills empowerment.
“Everyone is really concerned about youths out of jobs and government is emphasising skills development as the single most important tool to tackle this problem,” Mbabazi said.
“The youth are the future of the nation, when you invest in the youth you invest in the future. It is on this basis that we should not see their challenges as a burden but look at their strength as an opportunity for development,” she added.
Youth make up at least 80 per cent of African nations; but statistics indicate that 50 per cent of them in Africa are unemployed.
The fourth Rwanda Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV) indicates that unemployment in Rwanda stands at 2 per cent.
The same survey indicates that 146,000 off-farm jobs were created in Rwanda every year over the last three years since 2011.
Eugenia Kayitesi, the executive director of IPAR, said there was need for engaging policy-makers in devising practical solutions to overcome youth unemployment.
“The government has done a lot of work but on top of resources we need sustained efforts to equip young people with skills that we have identified from research studies,” Kayitesi said.
She promised continued support from IPAR in the fight against youth unemployment.
The fourth EICV also indicates that 13.5 per cent of the graduates are unemployed up from 13 per cent in the previous survey (2011), whereas the underemployed stands at 65 per cent.
Arjan de Haan, the programme leader at Inclusive Economies at International Development Research centre, observed that despite the economic progress, research shows that there has been sustainable growth but no rise in the number of decent jobs.
“Youth unemployment around the world has been increasing over the past years. This is because the young population has been increasing yet economic progress does not necessarily result into job increase,” Arjana said.
Meanwhile, Nadine Niyitegeka, from Akilah Institute, expressed concern over many youths joining entrepreneurship as a last resort.
“Most people join entrepreneurship not because they are passionate about it but because they have failed to find jobs, something that limits their productivity, creativity and business growth,” Niyitegeka said.
However, Olivier Musafiri from DOT Rwanda, emphasised the need for relevant internship and training.
“I was lucky to get training from DOT Rwanda after finishing school but remember many don’t get the same opportunity yet companies demand experience,” Musafiri said.