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Why Are There Many Jobless Graduates In Rwanda?

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Graduates from universities and higher education institutions are rated the most unemployed people in Rwanda while146, 000 off farm jobs have been annually created in Rwanda according to the Ministry of Public Service and Labour.

“Unemployment is rated at two percent in Rwanda being 3.4% in urban places while graduates from universities and other higher education institutions are the most people with no jobs being 13 percent”, said Thierry Mpamo the Communications and Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour.

Thierry Mpamo says the fact that most varsity graduates have no jobs is because most of them pursued courses that are rarely needed on the Labour market.

“Most of them do courses aiming at doing white-collar jobs [after graduating], these jobs are rare in Rwanda,” he says.

Another fascinating scenario is the nature of the demographics in Rwanda. Many graduates are still young and once in a job post, it takes longer to be replaced.

“You will find somebody who is 30 years old in a job…it is difficult for him to leave the job. And to be replaced, you will wait for him to retire and start getting the pension,” Mpamo explains.

He went on top say that “this is why the government sensitizes the youth to join Technical and Vocational Education and Training for courses like mechanical engineering, civil engineering etc…because you can’t fail to get a job when you study courses like those and when you do not get a job, it is easy to create a job for yourself and start a new business.”

The lack of more white-collar jobs has created discomfort amongst the youth, with some saying the jobs are there but the conditions to get one are unfair. In fact one of the local pop musicians, Ama G The Black, produced a song that added into public demands to prompt a policy shift. Earlier on, for graduates to qualify for a job in a public institution, criteria included, in many job posts, minimum years of experience; three, five, or ten in extreme cases. 

This, Ama G The Black sung, was unacceptable. “We are experienced in being jobless…how can one be experienced without having had a job opportunity?” His song rattled feathers in political corridors, promoting the government to softly scrap off the requirement and allow job seekers to win by merit, experience remaining to be an added advantage against other candidates.

Meanwhile in 2014, a survey conducted by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) found out that over 50% of youth in the five East African countries lack employability skills, technical mastery and basic work-related capabilities.

In Rwanda, it came out that 52% of graduates are unemployable. 

In response, the government has intensified efforts to provide an alternative form of education. 

Thus, more investment has been put into a program that has helped to create jobs for graduates with technical skills.  The “National Employment Program” known as NEP-Kora Wigire funds job creation projects.

The project has enabled creation of 146, 000 new off farm jobs annually, and will enable Rwandan create 200,000 new off farm jobs per year as planned. Most of the new jobs are created by the youth.

Even if this project succeeds, at the moment, the increasing number of jobless graduates still hangs in the air and solutions seem distant. 

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