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What should be done about the lack of language skills among the youth?

It is often highlighted by leaders and employers that while some young Rwandans possess the necessary technical skills for the job market, they lack effective communication skills to articulate their knowledge, contributing to their unemployment.

This issue was reiterated by the Mayor of Kigali, Samuel Dusengiyumva, in a message he delivered during the 13th event organized by the City of Kigali to connect job seekers, mostly youth, with employrs and recruiting organizations.

Mayor Samuel Dusengiyumva stated that the youth should focus on improving these skills so that, even when employed by foreigners, they can clearly explain their expertise, which would help secure their positions or instill confidence in their employers regarding their performance.

He said, “In addition to having a degree from a university or another educational institution, you should also possess sufficient capabilities. Here, we are talking about the ability to explain what you can do. […] We often see in job tests conducted by various companies investing in the City of Kigali that there is still work to be done.”

“For instance, you may have studied automotive engineering, but the person you will be working for needs you to be able to explain what you will be doing to their car to give you the job. You may have studied plumbing, but the person hiring you needs you to explain your work.”

He explained that the city has implemented programs to address the unemployment issue, including the ‘Job Net’ program, but he urged the youth to acquire the skills needed to clearly articulate their knowledge to help them quickly escape unemployment.

Some youth who participated in this program affirmed that this is the way to go, although some pointed out that certain aspects of the Rwandan education system might contribute to individuals graduating with a lot of technical skills but lacking proficiency in English to explain their knowledge to non-Kinyarwanda speakers.

Habimana Remy Schelecht, who participated in the Job Net program in 2023 and received a scholarship that later secured him a job after studying short courses in video production, reminded the youth that technical skills alone are not enough to advance.

He said, “It’s about acquiring more knowledge. Learning is a continuous process. One should not think that completing a course in photography or videography is enough; they need to add more. If I meet a foreigner who needs their photo taken, how will I communicate with them? This is where I advise seeking additional knowledge.”

Girimpuhwe Speciose, 23, participated in this program for the first time in 2024 and graduated from university in 2023 with a degree in accounting.

She said that where a person studied also plays a role in whether they graduate with technical skills alone but lack the ability to explain them to foreigners to secure a job.

She said, “Explaining what you studied […] might be influenced by the type of education and the school you attended. The primary and secondary schools, the institutions you attended all have an impact, resulting in a lack of communication skills in English, which can be a barrier.”

The Minister of Public Service and Labour, Ass. Prof. Bayisenge Jeannette, stated that a visible problem must be addressed. Hence, since employers have highlighted this issue, the government is aware and is putting efforts into solving it. Initially, efforts are focused on universities to provide technical skills while also ensuring that graduates have the knowledge to explain what they know in the job market.

Straight out of Twitter