All necessary actions that could help create more jobs for Rwandans need to be aggressively pursued to deal with the growing threat of unemployment in the country, stakeholders gathered for a Parliament-led consultative meeting on employment have said.
The meeting, held yesterday, brought together nearly 150 participants from both public and private sectors. It was called by the Senate to advance discussions about how to promote employment in the country.
With the unemployment rate in Rwanda standing at 13.2 per cent as reported by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), participants recommended that both the public and private sectors should increase efforts that are likely to boost employment for Rwandans, mostly among women and youth who are most vulnerable.
The measures include continued investments in Integrated Craft Production Centres (ICPCs-Agakiriro) across the country given their potential to create jobs for young people, improvement of education at all levels so it can be tailored to labour market needs, and increasing efforts to teach Rwandans how to save money needed to invest in business projects.
The recommendations from the meeting also include calls to members of the private sector to increase their working hours, pay attention to different funding opportunities for their business ideas such as the government-funded Business Development Fund, and for the country’s schools and colleges to work closely with the private industry to produce competent graduates.
Chairing the meeting, Senate president Bernard Makuza told participants that resolutions from the gathering would help stakeholders scale up their efforts to promote employment in the country.
Defined as the ratio of the number of unemployed persons to the total labour force, unemployment rate is the most commonly used indicator of the labour market and is generally used as a measure of any country’s economic health.
According to the results of the pilot Labour Force Survey conducted by NISR last year, unemployment rate in Rwanda stood at 13.2 per cent in February 2016.
The rate was higher in urban areas, at 15.9 per cent, than in rural areas, at 12.6 per cent.
It was also higher among women labour force, at 13.6 per cent, than men, at 12.9 per cent, and among the youth, at 15.9 per cent, than adults, 10.6 per cent.
Unlike previous surveys that had indicated lower unemployment rates in Rwanda, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) by the statistics body has posted higher rates for unemployment because it excluded people who are involved in subsistence farming just to get food for home consumption as employed.
Officials at NISR say the new definition of work is when you do something and get paid for it or get a profit out of it.
NISR Director-General Yusuf Murangwa said at the meeting that the new definition of employment and unemployment clearly highlights the extent of unemployment in the country.
“It does not mean that unemployment has increased, but it essentially means that the new yardstick captures the situation better and that unemployment is high,” he said.
After a pilot study last year, Murangwa said LFS will be conducted and published at least twice a year with detailed statistics on employment and unemployment to facilitate timely reference and policy decisions.
With at least 146,000 off-farm jobs being created in the country annually since 2011 – according to the latest Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey report –, the Government has been hopeful that it will achieve its target of creating 200,000 off-farm jobs a year by 2018.
The Minister for Public Service and Labour, Judith Uwizeye, told participants at the meeting that given the country’s efforts in boosting employment and job creation in the last two years it is likely that the target of creating 200,000 off-farm jobs every year has already been achieved.
About two years ago, the Government rolled out a multi-billion National Employment Programme (NEP) through which young entrepreneurs are supported by NEP-funded projects.
The projects include 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.
Through the facility, the government has helped sharpen skills of young aspiring entrepreneurs and supported their business projects through monetary grants and loans as well as donations of start-up equipment for small-scale crafts.