With the increased number of young people ready for employment in Rwanda, the country faces a challenge of creating employment opportunities that will ensure the young people become productive rather than being seen as dependents.
The country acknowledges that over the past two decades, formal sector job creation has worked well but the number of graduates from high school and tertiary education has outpaced the available job opportunities leading to high unemployment rate among the youth.
Majority of the youth who also try to venture into activities such as commercial farming and other forms of business meet a big challenge of lack of financial capital and experience to sustainably start a business thus a big problem for government to solve.
Youth unemployment is fueled by factors such as improved access to education, a skills mismatch between labour supply and demand, and inadequate growth in productive jobs.
Figures show that Rwanda’s working-age population has increased gradually from 4 million in 2000 to approximately 6.7 million in 2018. The unemployment rate within the total population stands at 21.1 percent in 2021.
This has been complemented by an increase in both the employed and unemployed labour units. With a median age of 19 years, the population is very young, and this demographic profile will persist for the coming decades.
However, the predominantly low levels of education threaten the expected demographic dividend. This is manifested by the high percentage of youth not in education, employment, or training at 33.7 percent. Rates are significantly higher for women than men.
Rwanda like many other African Countries face similar challenges of the high level of unemployment but the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a new model of development presents opportunities if effectively embraced in advance if well prepared for it.
A study conducted by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda in collaboration with the African Center for Economic Transformation(ACET) based in Ghana recommends several policy actions to be taken by the Government. Such actions include :
• Enhancing teachers’ English skills for improved instruction. Insufficient English language skills among teachers in secondary schools, technical and vocational training (TVET) institutions, and higher learning institutions negatively impact learning outcomes. The Ministry of Education should make a review of the existing policies on language management systems and invest in further language training for teachers.
• Strengthening the links between industry and the education system. The government should implement initiatives to directly link the quality and relevancy of programs with the labour market.
• Improving the quality and relevance of TVET. Employers are generally unsatisfied with the skill level of TVET graduates. The private sector needs to be involved from the initial stages of curriculum design, and employers should participate in innovative training systems, career guidance, and counseling services.
• Increasing the budget allocation to the education sector. Schools, colleges, and training institutions remain significantly underfunded Increased funding would also allow for the development of focus areas, including capacity and professional development and management training for teachers across all levels of education.
By adopting measures that ensure the youth are skilled and at the same time support the industry to create jobs, the government will empower more youth to work thus reducing youth unemployment.