Rwanda has enough skilled people

There have been reports that Rwanda does not have the required Human Resources, which is hampering the country’s growth and development. Some people have used the argument to advance what my friend refers to as xeno-mania, the fad of hiring foreigners to make an organization appear “international”.

There have been reports that Rwanda does not have the required Human Resources, which is hampering the country’s growth and development.

Some people have used the argument to advance what my friend refers to as xeno-mania, the fad of hiring foreigners to make an organization appear “international”.

It is true, there are fields of specialization in which Rwanda critically needs and will need foreign experts.

It is also true that there are positions which require exposure and contacts that not many Rwandans may have.
The quality of our institutions of higher learning also leaves a lot to be desired: universities, for example, are partly graded basing on the amount and quality of research and publication carried out majorly by their faculty.

You will be lucky to come across a publication by a Don in a Rwandan university. One old and I guess tired Professor at one University would tell his students thus; “I know you Anglophones want to write and write a lot.

Ecrire a cinq ligne…” He wanted a coursework written in five sentences and if a student wrote more than five, he/she was penalized.

No wonder some of his former students cannot write an essay. Thank God the man is no longer in academics.  One institution in Kigali is notorious because students decide the fate of Lecturers depending on how “difficult” the questions he/she sets and grades he/she awards irrespective of the performance of students.

The above notwithstanding, Rwanda has enough skilled people, their allocation and utilization of their skills is the problem.

Many employers complain about the abilities of their employees without examining their recruitment processes which are wrought with manipulation and nepotism.

Where the head of the institution does not give a directive as to whom the position should be accorded, his/her lieutenants will decide even before the recruitment process begins.

It is not uncommon to go for an interview and be told in low tones that the job will be given to so and so; who sure like day and night, that person actually gets it.

Before anyone says there are no skilled people in Rwanda, let him/her examine the recruitment process, particularly short-listing, selection and preparation of and conduct of interviews. You cannot plant plantains and expect to harvest coffee.

Many people in senior and leadership positions look at employment as an end in itself, particularly if the position has been acquired through influence peddling.

Such people pay less attention to their performance and results than the people who helped them get that job.

They get jobs not because they have the requisite qualifications but because they have powerful backers somewhere up the echelons of power.

The key to productive human resources is fair recruitment processes.Transfer of senior and middle level employees from one ministry/Institution to another is unheard of in Rwanda.

The result is that a Director may work in one position in one ministry/institution for more than a decade; the disadvantage is that such people become resistant to change, innovation and creativity.

I asked one of them why she wrote documents, especially letters, with paragraphs starting  in the middle of the page and her answer was that it has always been done like that. Who said it must be like that?

Because it has always been done that way, she said. Such employees weld a lot of influence, dictating the way things are done in such institutions.

They know their routine, the way to all corners in the institution and oppose any innovation even when it is in the interest of the institution/ministry.

Transfer of employees helps them acquire and transfer new skills and ideas which in turn improve institutions as a whole.

It is at times incredible to hear people in the private sector talk about lack of skilled personnel when their recruitment is based on anything other than skills and competence.

But I will reserve comments on employment in the private sector after all it is someone’s savings and investments and how well their businesses are managed, remains their business though personally and I guess the nation would be proud to have successful and thriving businesses.

Before people in the private sector take a swipe at the skills and education of Rwandans, they should examine the way they select their new employees.

In Rwanda, there is a notion held by many that a holder of a Masters Degree performs better and that with a PhD performs best and therefore demand for the said qualifications as a requirement for consideration for employment. What a fallacy!

Because someone was lucky to be “given” a government scholarship to study for a second degree does not necessarily make that person a better performer because some of those scholarships may not have been awarded based on merit.

Many of those have their qualifications go to their heads, develop ideas about their intelligence and consequently expect to be treated differently.

Whereas it is pertinent to acknowledge the achievements of those who do have the aforementioned qualifications, it must be stressed that those qualifications may not necessarily translate into skills or performance.

We have heard of cases where some bosses have been discovered to have been surviving on forged academic documents. 

Many of the least developed countries in South and East Asia that reached their “take-off stage” in the 60s and 70s did not have a “critical mass” or half the number of University graduates Rwanda has today.

It would be good to prudently utilize the Human Resources available in Rwanda and then talk about skills that are not available lest we sound mocking to those who have the skills but cannot find employment.