Skills gap among youth to blame for lack of jobs

Sunday May 27 2018

Rwandan TVET students

There is a mismatch between the skills of the youth and the requirements of the job market. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

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The persistent gap between the skills required by the labour market and those offered by the workforce are contributing to the high unemployment rate among the youth.

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) by February last year, the unemployment rate among the youth aged between 19 and 30 years old was at 21 per cent.

Experts attribute this skills mismatch to factors such as poor quality education and training systems as well as inadequate use of skills in the workplace.

For instance, Benjamain Niyonsaba, 26, is still unemployed three years after graduating from the University of Rwanda.

“Many employers look for qualified candidates with hands-on practical skills, yet our education system is not providing the needed skills,” said Mr Niyonsaba.

Patriote Gatsinzi, an official from Right Seat which links job seekers with employers said more is required to get a job than just formal training including good and professional conduct.


Limited resources

According to Jean Marie Vianney Usengumuremyi the president of Private Schools Association, private schools are grappling with limited resources to offer practical courses.

“Many schools lack the budget to cater for their students’ internship costs, which is why they mostly teach theory,” Mr Usengumuremyi told Rwanda Today. There is also concern about persistent changes to the education system, which stakeholders term as disruptive.

“The switch from a French teaching system to an English system then followed by a switch from theory-based curriculum to competence-based curriculum had an impact on the quality of education as the teachers were not well trained on the new systems,” said Mr Usengumuremyi.

However, the Ministry of Education is confident that with the ongoing implementation of the new competence-based curriculum, the quality of education will improve.

Education Minister Eugene Mutimura said the government has decided to utilise local teachers as content developers to integrate the skills needed in the labour market and the training offered in schools.

“We are developing the content and teaching materials locally because we will be able to review the content every two years and harmonise what students are learning with what the labour market needs,” said Dr Mutimura.

The government is also promoting technical and vocational training to facilitate the transition to the labour market.