5 February 2013

Rwanda: Market Oriented Skills Will Tame Unemployment - Expert

Rwandans, especially the youth, need to acquire new skills if the unemployment rate in the country is to be contained, an expert has said.

Vincent Kimani, a consultant with RUMA Consult, a human resources and business consulting firm in Kigali, noted that there were a lot of skills gaps among Rwandans, making them less competitive, especially as the local market opens its doors to regional players.

Kimani added that the influx of other East Africans into the local job market, who have better skills and know English, has compounded the (unemployment) problem.

"The East African Community (EAC) opened up the job market, hence the free movement of labour across borders. And because the country has a skills gap in some sectors like accounting, ICT, medicine and English language, it has also attracted East Africans to fill these gaps," he noted.

Kimani advised that since competition is growing, Rwandas have to up their game, acquire the requisite skills and enroll for English classes to be competitive, not only in the local job market, but also across the region.

He also urged the youth to focus on acquiring skills that promote job-creation ,other than looking at the few white collar jobs in government departments and the young local private sector.

According to last year's statistics, Rwanda's unemployment rate stands at 8 per cent, with SMEs comprising 98 per cent of all businesses in Rwanda and 41 per cent of the country's labour force.

On average, SMEs generate Rwf4.9b in annual tax revenue per year.

Youth unemployment is still a challenge in many developing countries and, in Rwanda, 67 per cent of the population is still under 25 years.

If the government attains its goal of creating 185,000 off-farm jobs every year and 3.2 million jobs by 2020, it will help contain the ever-growing unemployment rate today.

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