Rwanda’s youth employment on a blink of exploding? Talents acquisition not an issue but Education?
Rwanda is a landlocked country located in Middle East Africa well known for its nickname, a land of a thousand hills. As of 2020, in Rwanda, 17.6 % of the population is urban (2,281,330 people in 2020), and the median age is 20.0 years, enough to say that there is more youth or young generation in this country. It is projected to have an increase of more than 4 million in population by 2030, which one would say will reduce the median age to continue being young aged people. While the main concern here is not about the rapid change in its population, unemployment, specifically youth unemployment heavily collides and correlates with the population growth, and Rwanda is facing a serious one where a thousands of young Rwandans remain jobless despite having basic qualifications such a university degree, which is leaving many of people to question root causes of the issue, and what could be done to help reduce the number of young people unemployed. It is an issue because, over the past four years, there has been a slight decrease in the youth unemployment rate, but during quarter four of the year 2019, it was increased. (Rwanda’s unemployment rate increased in Quarter 3, 2019 | National Institute of Statistics Rwanda, 2019)
Rwanda has made a good economic progress that one would always wish to look for in a small African country where its GDP has increased from 7 USD Billions in 2012 to 9.5 USD Billions in 2018. While Rwanda heavily relies on some economic sectors like Tourism and Agriculture, to solve the unemployment problem, the unexpected might happen, and that would disrupt the way many things are conceived.
Hard to find talents in Rwanda
In a country like Rwanda where the population is not that much, it should be easy for companies to source talents yet it is not the case especially for ICT. It is an issue because a source at a local non-governmental organization (NGO) that wanted to stay anonymous reported to RwandaToday that they were surprised when only one position of a driver attracted 1,116 candidates including two Ph.D. holders and 30 people with master’s degrees (KANAMUGIRE, 2019). The organization instead of going a regular way of eliminating based on stages, interviewing, e.t.c because it was going to cost them more, it halted the recruitment process. Many organizations in Rwanda face the same issue where some claim that even after releasing exams to job applicants, all fail.
There might be many causes of this issue of sourcing the right talents, and some of them are incapable of talents, or the cost of following regular application processes. These still affect youth from sourcing the right jobs too hence unemployment.
Young people nowadays claim that they are still unemployed because grown people claim to still be capable of handling the industry. During the National’s vision 2020 the development of National Digital Talent Policy, the major point was to ensure the adequate supply of the skills needs of the ICT sector to enable the sector to deliver on the EDPRS II. The measurements that were taken included making sure that ICT learning was emphasized
Is education a key player too?
While it would be about poor systems of sourcing talents, like manually reviewing thousands of applications, and releasing exams to more than a thousand applicants, one would still blame the education system that fails to produce capable students (National Digital Talent Policy, 2016).
When the Rwandan president Paul Kagame had a visit to France 24 in 2019, he also talked about the education system in Rwanda, that what they were trying to do is make sure everyone at least gets access to primary and secondary education. In a few words education for all. He additionally emphasized that the next step isn’t now about access but the quality (NICHOLSON, 2019).
For Rwanda to be where it is right now, a lot had to be done, like changing the education system from French to English as a teaching language for public and most private institutions in 2008. However, the decision brought its challenges too like the failure of many adults to adapt to the language which affected young children in learning in English. According to Maria Ambrozy of the SOAS University of London, the Rwandan system itself was not equipped to handle the influx of students that resulted from expanded access, and so education quality suffered (The Editors, 2017). Education quality still affects employment abilities of young people, because for employers, what they want is not a degree, but the ability to deliver.
One would hope to see a change soon since a lot is being done to make sure the secondary and tertiary education in Rwanda is provided in quality even with the help of private institutions like new universities and branches of abroad ones being established in Rwanda. But again wonder where it is heading, if the GDP being spent on an education keeps sliding.
Sociology and ways of living for Rwandans need to change?
Rwanda like any other country in Africa is still affected by colonial history, even though it has learned to move on and establish itself as a stable nation. Additionally, every nation has things conceived about it. Do you want to know how you conceive Rwandans? generalize how you know all the Rwandans, you have seen. What are the things that you have seen they all had in common? Yes, stereotypes and clichés are always everywhere.
According to KT Press, common ones about Rwandans are “Rwandans are secretive!”, “Banyarwanda are reserved and won’t tell you what they feel!”, and “so obedient” (Kanuma, 2019). Quitte and obedient to always follow ineffective changes and decisions that are always observed in institutions in charge. Most employers like obedient and quiet employees, but when it comes to giving instructions, if you are always quiet, once you think you don’t understand what you have been told.
The easiest way to see proof it might be if you take random Rwandans (⅓), and random internationals (⅔ at least) and give them a job. Have them work together for a month. Track down actions like:
- Who is going to present the report the first time
- Who are the ones looking shy?
- Who is looking to as if they are lost?
- Who is doing the unexpected?
- Who talks much in meetings?
Who do you think these people are? Whoever these are, employers don’t like to waste time in making employees feel better about themselves but about knowing how much they can deliver and contribute to their institutions. So characters, traits, and cliches matter and still affect young people when it comes to hiring.
Corruption or connections?
One big question that would need statistical data collection is, Who are losing jobs? Who are getting jobs? What are these people’s nationalities, companies hiring them, the connection in companies, eligibility, fields, gender, age, education background, language proficiency, e.t.c.
According to the World Bank Governance Indicators, Rwanda appears to have achieved remarkable progress in controlling corruption, compared to many African countries. The country has also made significant progress over the last years in terms of government effectiveness and transparency of the regulatory framework. Despite these efforts, corruption remains prevalent in the country Sectors most affected by corruption, which I think is also one of the factors that contribute to the loss or get jobs.
From personal experience, I believe that to get a job. It’s all about Building networks, being persistent, and diversification of effort, which is crucial in achieving a challenging goal. I have spent more time performing voluntary work with some organizations, especially NGOs, where I was able to market my skills, and it requires patience to look for a job, which I think today’s youth lack. I have Kept updating my resume and depositing smart applications to any career opportunities that come across, attending conventions, conferences, and career fairs to make more connections. One day I met with a recruiter, and he was impressed by my CV, and from that, I have got Hired in the construction industry, and to be honest, I had zero skills in such filled, but now I’m able to perform any task they can give.
The government of Rwanda as mentioned before is doing a lot about this through initiatives and policies. For example, Andela, a leading technology training and job placement firm, was also established in Rwanda in 2018 after cabinet approval and the signing of an MOU on the establishment of a Pan-African tech hub (Collins Mwai, 2019). It is expected to train more youth about ICT and will help young tech people improve their skills and be placed in companies through Andela’s programs. Again new private game-changing universities like ALU and Vatel Rwanda were established, which one can say they are foundations of others to join.
Rwanda in Africa
What will youth unemployment be like in Rwanda in the future? By 2030, young Africans are expected to make up 42 percent of the world’s youth and account for 75 percent of those under age 35 in Africa (Perlotto, 2019). Rwanda more than now will be having the pressure of creating more jobs, not only for its youth but for Africa in general, so as talents that can be able to compete on a global basis. This is why many policies need to be in place for the sake of the survival of the young and future generations of Rwanda, even if it can be as much as taking a risk and initiative of opening markets to foreigners for investments. Furthermore, other continents need a workforce from Rwanda, especially in the tech field. So African countries need to push boundaries in education and learning facilities so as to accommodate the young generation.
Bizimungu, J. (2018, August 24). New talent search initiative to boost creative industry. The New Times | Rwanda. https://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/new-talent-search-initiative-boost-creative-industry
Collins Mwai. (2019, September 18). Rwanda unaffected as Andela lays off staff. The New Times | Rwanda. https://www.newtimes.co.rw/business/rwanda-unaffected-andela-lays-staff
KANAMUGIRE, J. (2019, August 26). Agony of jobseekers in Kigali. Rwanda Today. http://rwandatoday.africa/news/Agony-of-jobseekers-in-Kigali/4383214-5249768-tjgghu/index.html
Kanuma, S. (2019, November 12). The Myth Of Unromantic, Unfriendly, Obedient, Secretive, Reserved Rwandan. KT PRESS. https://www.ktpress.rw/2019/11/the-myth-of-unromantic-unfriendly-obedient-secretive-reserved-rwandan/
National Digital Talent Policy. (2016). https://rwandatrade.rw/media/2016%20MINICT%20Digital%20Talent%20Policy.pdf
NICHOLSON, C. (2019, June 24). Talking Europe – “Just ridiculous”: Rwanda’s Paul Kagame dismisses EU human rights report. France 24; France 24. https://www.france24.com/en/20190624-talking-europe-paul-kagame-rwanda-development-neven-mimica-eu-commission-human-rights
Ntirenganya, E. (2017, May). How Kigali’s annual employment fair created 840 jobs for youth. The New Times | Rwanda. https://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/read/211639
Perlotto, S. (2019). Africa’s Future: Youth and the Data Defining Their Lives – Population Reference Bureau. Prb.Org. https://www.prb.org/africas-future-youth-and-the-data-defining-their-lives/
Rwanda Population (2020) – Worldometer. (2020a). Worldometers.Info. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/rwanda-population/
Rwanda Population (2020) – Worldometer. (2020b). Worldometers.Info. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/rwanda-population/
Rwanda Youth Unemployment Rate | 2019-2019 Data | 2020-2022 Forecast | Calendar. (2019). Tradingeconomics.Com. https://tradingeconomics.com/rwanda/youth-unemployment-rate
Rwanda’s unemployment rate increasing in Quarter 3, 2019 | National Institute of Statistics Rwanda. (2019). Statistics.Gov.Rw. https://www.statistics.gov.rw/publication/rwanda%E2%80%99s-unemployment-rate-increasing-quarter-3-2019
The Editors. (2017, April 18). How Switching From French to English Changed Education in Rwanda. Worldpoliticsreview.Com. https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/21884/how-switching-from-french-to-english-changed-education-in-rwanda
I enjoyed reading through this insightful article.
I am glad you talked about Rwanda’s education system as a catalyst to the rise of the unemployment rate specifically among fresh graduate. On top of transitioning from Francophone to Anglophone without the capacity/human capital who are able to make the transition smooth, add instabilities in the curriculum being used at all levels of education, unfair salaries teachers get, and lack of infrastructure in different part of the country especially rural areas.
Here is my question,
Do you think that different government initiative o f opening doors for high end educational institutions, and selecting high performing students to send them to study abroad will change the status quo in the near future?
Great article Teta, it was highly insightful and detailed. Many things have been said about the Rwandan education systems and areas that need improvement which is in some way being remedied by the rise of educational and training institutions coming into Rwanda like Andela and ALU to name a few.