Over 8,500 people have so far benefited from a national skills development programme, with 50 per cent of them getting employment within six months of graduating.
The $34.5 million (Rwf 25 billion) programme aims to narrow the skills gap in the country, and thereby reduce unemployment.
This was revealed on Wednesday by Livingston Byandaga, the Skills Development Fund (SDF) programme manager, while handing out certificates of completion to 46 people who trained in culinary arts for three months at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre South (IPRC South) in Huye District.
Addressing the graduates, Byandaga extolled the value of the programme.
“There is high level of success in this programme. Most formerly unemployed graduates have been able to create jobs upon receiving skills from this prgramme,” he said.
Byandaga also urged people who are unemployed to join cooperatives and seek support from various organisations such as the National Employment Programme.
The skills development programme that started in 2011 and will end in 2016, aims to train 10,000 people.
The programme is jointly funded by a World Bank $30m loan, in addition to an investment of $4.5 million by the Government of Rwanda.
Byandaga said the SDF was meant to speed up the skills transfer process.
“Although they (trainees) are trained for short period of time, the skills they acquire are advanced. We focus on practical skills, instead of theory, so that the students, after graduation (within three to six months), have enough skills to compete on the job market,” he said.
Dr Barnabe Twabagira, the principal of IPRC-South said, they chose to train people in culinary arts to partly ensure that meals being prepared in restaurants are of a good standard.
“There are people who go to various hotels and decline to take salad. It is because they are afraid of falling sick due to poor standards. We want a person to go into a restaurant rest assured that the food they will eat is safe,” he said.
Nicole Muziranenge, a graduate of the programme, is convinced that taking a professional culinary arts course will benefit her.
“I learnt about hygiene in the kitchen and the best way to prepare good and affordable meals. If I do not get a job, I can draft a business plan for restaurant and submit it for funding,” she said.