Rwandans will join the rest of the world in celebrating the International Labour Day on May 1 with a focus on promoting productive work by supporting young entrepreneurs, officials at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour (Mifotra) have said.
The focus for this year’s Labour Day celebrations was announced, yesterday, by the Minister for Public Service and Labour, Judith Uwizeye, during a media conference at the ministry’s head office in Kigali.
With at least 146,000 off-farm jobs having been created in the country annually since 2011 according to the latest Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey report released in September last year, the government has been hopeful that it will achieve its target of creating 200,000 off-farm jobs every year by 2018.
But successfully achieving the target will require the country’s young people who constitute majority of the Rwandan population to tap into all the available opportunities in the country to create their own jobs and engage in productive work, officials say.
“We are not asking people to wait for having sophisticated means in order to create jobs. They need to start small with the little means they have and create jobs,” Uwizeye told journalists.
In the lead-up to the Labour Day, Mifotra will launch a ‘Labour Week’ on Monday, during which campaigns about encouraging the youth to create jobs will be run.
During the week, some workplaces will also be visited to monitor the state of health and safety for workers, and a regional employment forum will be held in Kigali in order to share information on job opportunities and challenges of unemployment and underemployment in Rwanda and the broader eastern Africa region.
In Rwanda, where unemployment rate stands at 2 per cent and underemployment hovers around 31 per cent according to EICV4, the government has rolled out a multi-billion National Employment Programme (NEP) through which young entrepreneurs are supported.
NEP-funded projects such as Business Incubation Centres (BIC), Business Development Fund (BDF), Community Processing Centres (CPCs), Integrated Craft Production Centres (ICPCs-Agakiriro), and the Labour Market Information System (LMIS) among other initiatives have been set up by the government to help sharpen skills of young aspiring entrepreneurs and support their business projects through monetary grants and loans as well as donations of start-up equipments for small scale crafts.
With the unemployment rate standing at 14.5 per cent among university and TVET graduates in the country, Minister Uwizeye has encouraged young people to shun the habit of waiting too long for offers of jobs in the public service, instead urging them to use the skills they learned in schools to create their own jobs.
“It is time for our graduates to work in their fields of study; creating their own jobs instead of fighting for positions in office jobs,” she said.
As Rwandans prepare to mark the Labour Day, experts say that other key issues to reflect on include the need to set up a new minimum-wage in the country, health and safety standards at workplaces, how to help the unemployed get jobs and how to sustain the existing jobs in the country.