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Youth to be involved as partners in designing perfect employment opportunities

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It is not unusual to see young people who graduate with hopes and dreams but two weeks later they go on the job market, the public and the private, the public tells them that what they studied is no longer needed, and the private tells them there is no space for them and they start questioning their education.

Figures from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) indicate that the unemployment rate in August 2021 was 19.4%, from 23.5% in May and 17% in February of the same year.

These figures are high due to the significant impact of Covid-19, as some economic activities were severely affected by the pandemic, resulting in a decline in employment opportunities.

Youth unemployment during the Covid-19 period increased to 21.7%, yet young people between the ages of 16 and 30 make up 43% of all Rwandans.

But it is not just Covid-19, Education and the private sector also had a key role since there was a significant number of unemployed youth way before Covid-19.

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Young people should be treated as partners not as beneficiaries

During the 19th Regional Seminar for Labour-based Practitioners, the Minister of Youth, Dr. Utumatwishima Abdallah, remarked that to combat unemployment there is a need to involve young people in designing perfect employment opportunities and recognizing the talents of the youth and involve them in the decision-making process.

The theme of this 19th Regional Seminar for Labour-based practitioners is “Promoting skills and productive (decent) jobs for our common better future.”

The 19th Regional Seminar has brought together at least 800 delegates from different sectors like labor-based practitioners, policymakers, young people, development partners, the private sector, and civil society organizations.

Dr. Utumatwishima Abdallah said that more than ever there is a need to involve young people in the process.

He said, “Young people as partners not as beneficiaries of our programs. We need to create platforms for them to express their opinions in order to be heard, we need to co-create and co-design employment opportunities, we need to include the youth to shape the designs, and we need their active participation.”

The Minister said that there is a need for the private and public sectors to design mentorship and networks that can support youth and connect youth with industry professionals and that there is a need for higher learning institutions to give access to the youth about industry trends and opportunities.

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Minister of Youth, Dr. Utumatwishima Abdallah

The job market is rapidly growing and changing, which is why educational institutions need to develop curriculums that will equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to survive. The education system could serve better the supply side of labor.

Dr. Didas Muganga Kayihura, Vice Chancellor of the University of Rwanda, said that one of the things the institution is targeting to achieve is to help the youth discover who they are and what potential they have.

The Vice-chancellor said that it is high time to construct curriculums that can better guide young people and give them the skills that are relevant on the market.

He said, “We are meant to be training, but the way we have been training is training people who will not know where they will end up. We have to allow them to discover how they can better use their potential.”

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The vice chancellor believes there is a need to change mindset

Currently, the University of Rwanda is actively investing in allowing young people to interact with the private sector, every year they are having career centers, and hubs to let the students get acquainted with potential employers before they are on the Job market.

The university is also looking to add to their curriculums those skills that are supposed to be to help the youth on the job market. UR is allowing them to get equipped with those skills.

But is not all about what the public and private sectors are doing, it is also about what young people are doing for themselves.

Dr. Didas Muganga Kayihura said that there is a need to have a mindset change among the youth. He said, “There needs to be a mindset change. You should ask ‘How can I look at available opportunities and turn them into employment.’

Hannah Adams, Country Manager, Harambee Rwanda, a not-for-profit social enterprise with extensive experience building solutions and innovations that can solve the global youth unemployment said there is a need for the Youth to upskill for market adaptation.

She said that after interviewing a large number of employers are looking for young people with “Curiosity, energy, and positive attitudes.” These are some of the key skills young people need.

It is imperative that young people continuously seek out skills that are highly needed on the job market.

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