KIGALI - Emmanuel (not real names), a 26 year old graduate from the National University of Rwanda (NUR), remains unemployed for almost two years. And he is still counting.
A graduate in Applied Statistics, Emmanuel’s story is shared by fresh graduates who grace the streets of Kigali in search of employment job.
While government plans to trim unemployment levels from eight to four percent, the number of job seekers outpaces the jobs created, especially in Kigali where the population registers an average growth of three percent annually.
There is a growing number of youth migrants from rural areas travel to the city in search of greener pastures.
Emmanuel wants a scheme formulated to follow up fresh graduates to act as a conduit to employment opportunities across the country.
“There are jobs in Kigali but we do not know where to find them. After campus we should immediately be linked to available jobs in the country,” he says in an interview with The New Times.
Emmanuel’s feelings are shared by the Rector of NUR, Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, who believes that there is a gap between university graduates and employers.
“Connection between employers and training institutions is almost non-existent. If there were job centres that connect the two, graduates would not face long periods without jobs,” Lwakabamba says, adding that: “In the developed countries, graduates are even given interviews while they are still studying.”
While he also advises graduates to vigilantly participate in entrepreneurial programs, many such as Emmanuel do not have a strong entrepreneurial insight.
“It is important that fresh graduates do not undermine the numerous entrepreneurship training programs availed to them because they offer empowerment for self employment,” Lwakabamba said.
He adds that government mainly empowers the private sector and professional cooperatives, well knowing that they support graduates better.
During his Labour Day speech three weeks ago, the Minister of Labour, Anastase Murekezi, emphasised that:
“Government employs a small percentage but because it is mainly services, it positively impacted on private sector employment which registered 98 percent growth.”
According to the Vice Mayor of Kigali City, Alphonse Ndayisenga, graduates should broaden their job search beyond Kigali.
The labour force in Kigali is mainly made up of fresh graduates. But the city accounts for only 12.6 percent of the country’s total workforce. Although the country targets to create 200,000 annually, only a half the number are realised.
“Graduates should not only look for work in Kigali but in the rural sectors and districts as well because they also offer many job opportunities,” Ndayisaba advised.
The number of university graduates is expected to rise but what is uncertain is whether job creation would keep the pace.