There is a need to consistently generate and publish fresh labour market information that provides updates on the kind of skills that employers need, and the number of jobseekers as well as their areas of expertise.
The call was made by participants who were gathered at a two-day regional employment forum in Kigali, which concluded on Tuesday.
This, they said, would significantly help address the issue of unemployment.
It is one of the resolutions taken during the meeting, the second of its kind, which attracted experts and policymakers from eastern and southern Africa, and held under the theme, “Promoting productive employment by supporting young entrepreneurs”.
Participants observed that labour market trends and statistics in different countries should be used to inform policy formulation in efforts geared at tackling unemployment.
It was noted that accurate and updated information on the labour market allows investment in the right skills.
“You can’t plan without information,” said Jealous Chirove, an employment expert working for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Tanzania whose office also covers Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, and Uganda.
Among the other five resolutions from the meeting include a call to integrate skills gaps and the mismatch between available skills and the needs of the labour market in national discourse, and creating platforms where employers can register the skills required in their respective sectors, and allow jobseekers’ qualifications and skills to get matched with the corresponding job profiles.
It was also recommended that university education across the six partner states comprising the East African Community (EAC) be linked to job realities on the ground and initiate community-based research partnerships.
Experts also urged stakeholders in employment issues to engage private companies in the promotion of workplace learning and best practices for private sector-driven skills development, while governments in the EAC were urged to fast-track the harmonisation of labour laws, practices and employment strategies.
Young people, who are the hardest-hit by unemployment, were encouraged to join professional groups and consortiums, which experts say would facilitate transfer of skills and mobilise further resources.
Many of the resolutions resonated with stakeholders who are involved in daily efforts to help those seeking employment, especially young people.
“It’s very important to track trends of job opportunities that are on the job market as well as the kind of skills our people, especially the youth and women, need to seize existing opportunities,” said Annonciata Kambayire, the Vice-Mayor for Social Affairs in the Southern Province’s Ruhango District.
Theodore Hatangimbabazi, an officer in charge of SMEs and cooperatives development in Western Province’s Nyabihu District, said the number of graduates who are unemployed can be reduced if the education system is tailored to the existing skills gap.
“I like the proposed measures on the reduction of skills gap. Our education system needs to be demand-driven, it needs to directly respond to the needs of the private sector,” he told The New Times.
Official statistics show that unemployment rate in the country stands at 2 per cent among the general population, while 13.5 per cent of college graduates are unemployed. Underemployment hovers around 31 per cent.
Officials say that regular dialogue between different players will help find sustainable solutions to employment challenges, a thinking that partly informed the government’s decision to organise a regional employment forum every year to serve as a platform to exchange ideas.