Considering that youth constitute 70% of the population of working age, it is vital for the development of the country and for economic growth that they are productive members of society. That is why in all government programs, special attention is given to young Rwandans between the ages of 16 and 35 years.
Thanks to these government initiatives aimed at enhancing capacity building among youth (knowledge and know-how), their unemployment rate was 4% according to the 4th General Census report.
The second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) aims to transform Rwanda into a middle-income country with a knowledge-based, private sector-driven economy. Job creation is a cornerstone to achieve that goal.
A structural shift has been made to move from an economy dominated by agriculture to one led by higher-value-added industries and the service sector. In the medium term, economic transformation has required continued and significant investment from the private and public sectors in skills, technology and infrastructure, supported by a business environment conducive to the creation of high-productivity jobs.
Annual economic growth over the last six years was 8% on average, and 1 million off-farm jobs were created.
Recognizing the importance of employment for economic development and poverty reduction, EDPRS II sets a target of 200,000 off-farm jobs to be created each year, with a special focus on youth.
To achieve this goal, EDPRS II introduces the National Employment Program (NEP) to coordinate employment programs and ensure their planning, implementation and coordination by different stakeholders engaged in job creation and employment promotion.
The Government of Rwanda decided to establish the NEP to optimize the impact of employment interventions with the following objectives:
NEP is built on four pillars: skills development; entrepreneurship and business development; labour market interventions and coordination; and monitoring and evaluation of national employment interventions.
Employment promotion involves various actors at the national and district levels. At central level, the key institutions involved in the implementation of NEP include MIFOTRA, MIGEPROF, MINICOM, MYICT, MINEDUC, MINALOC, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), the Workforce Development Agency (WDA), the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA), the National Youth Council (NYC), the National Women’s Council (NWC), the National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), the Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), the National Capacity Building Secretariat (NCBS), the Business Development Fund (BDF) and the Private Sector Federation (PSF).
Every year, a National Employment Forum is organised to promote interaction and integration of diverse ideas for employment promotion. At the same occasion, Job Net, organized by the City of Kigali in collaboration with MIFOTRA, gives an opportunity to job seekers to connect with potential employers.
In addition, the Kigali Employment Services Centre has been created to provide job seekers with employment information, career guidance and application writing, and to link employers to potential employees. It also offers support to people wishing to be self-employed.
In order to make skilled workers available to key economic sectors, the government is promoting technical and vocational education and training (TVET), targeting to have 65% of students enrolled in such schools. In addition, incentives were created for private employers to scale up apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job training for youth.
Other initiatives have also been taken to ensure that skills are developed in accordance with the needs of the labour market. These include project-based learning through all levels of education; career-focused courses in secondary schools; TVET and higher education; Rapid-Response Trainings responding to demands for specific skills; enhancement of career services and guidance; intensification of part-time and distance learning; creation of sector skills councils serving as platforms to adapt skills development to the specific needs of the private sector; and increased productive internships and apprenticeships.
As a way of strengthening and empowering youth, especially through capacity building, the government is also committed to increasing the number of youth cooperatives. 930 new cooperatives were created in different fields, bringing the total number of youth cooperatives to 1664.
In another move to promote self-employment, the government has ensured increased access to finance and technical training for household enterprises and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and scaled up their financing through Business Development Fund (BDF) products including SME guarantee (up to 75%), youth and women grants and quasi-equity finance; proximity business advisory (BDA) services and provision of start-up toolkits to youth graduating from vocational training and apprenticeship.
BDF, in collaboration with MINICOM, is also supporting the establishment of Community Processing Centres (CPCs), aimed at adding value to local produce in communities. The government is also committed to establishing community centres specialized in processing dairy products, banana wine and Irish potatoes, through a public-private partnership in which the district or cooperatives provide land and buildings, whereas MINICOM provides technology and appropriate equipment, and ensures effective management.
In addition, standardized and modern Integrated Craft Production Centres (ICPCs-Agakiriro) are being set up in all districts to accommodate local craftsmen and artisans, including TVET graduates, and facilitate them to upgrade their skills and embrace innovation. So far 10 Districts are in the final construction stages, while 12 others have commissioned construction works. They will be open mainly to carpentry, welding, electronics repair, and the manufacturing of artisanal products.
Apart from such initiatives that directly target jobs and employment, the government is also taking measures to create an environment conducive to new commercial activities. One of the main programs is the Electricity Access Rollout Program (EARP) to ensure the provision of energy to the trade centres.
Ildephonse Habiyambere, the Principal of IPRC West in Karongi district, explains that EARP has had a significant impact of great social, economic and geographical reach.
“People are constructing homes and commercial buildings at good speed; and because EARP connections reach deep into the trading centres and villages, the demand for electrical and electronic technicians becomes overwhelming. So IPRC graduates will not lack work.
“When households and businesses get connected, they will acquire electronic gadgets that will require professional technicians for repair. IPRC West has trained them, and they have opened small and big workshops throughout the district, while other technicians such as builders and plumbers provide solutions to the construction industry in Karongi district and beyond,” enthuses Habiyambere.
Thus, the government is implementing a package of policies that foster entrepreneurship while nurturing a more skilled workforce and promoting private sector investment. It gives incentives to both local and foreign investors to help them make their businesses more profitable, and thus create more jobs, especially for youth.