Skilling Youth a Yardstick to Rwanda’s development

On 9 May 2019 at 05:30

Earlier in our continent’s history, children were encouraged to work hard in school in order to pass their examinations and get a job. Higher education, and especially a degree, was the way for a young person to get into gainful employment and get on their way to fulfilling their dreams.

That is no longer the case today. Many people end up taking jobs outside their areas of study and for many, unfortunately, they end up jobless as there are not enough opportunities for employment in the formal sector. In these unfortunate circumstances, unemployment and under-employment have become common in our society today.

In Rwanda, the youth today make about 28.1 percent of the total population, estimated to be 12 million. The economy of the country is bolstered by the existing opportunities in financial services, agriculture, commerce, hospitality, and information technology. Vibrant and educated young men and women are capitalizing the ease of starting a business in these sectors.

Rwanda’s high ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business is proof of its readiness to make things work for entrepreneurs.

Economists have argued that the current unemployment crisis is as a result of an education system intent on labor supply instead of incubating entrepreneurship and skilling.

Entrepreneurship-centered learning produces a cascading effect as with more business ventures created, more students get a higher chance of accessing employment. Evidently, small and medium-small and micro businesses compromise 98 percent of total business in the country and account for 41 percent of private sector employment.

Skills development builds a sustainable circle in which the quality and relevance of education and training fuels innovation, enterprise development, economic competitiveness and more importantly, productive jobs.

A commendable number of countries in the continent are already making headway in formulating policies and implementation of programmes centered on the youth. The World Economic Forum 2018 Report concluded that skilling the youth must be a long-term investment for growing economies in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Skilling needs to be undertaken with the labor gaps in different industries and sectors in mind and by identifying the existing labor gaps in different industries and sectors, we are able to target training to meet these market needs.

There are currently a number of under-served industries, particularly in the informal sector: Beauty and Personal Care, Automotive Maintenance and Repair, Domestic Services, Agribusiness and Building, and Construction.

In 2018, Rwanda led the region in elevating Technical Vocational Education & Training (TVET) as a key government priority streamlined in the county’s seven-year National Strategy for Transformation (2017-2024).

The World Economic Forum recommends in its report for 2018 that in order for Rwanda to harness the demographic it currently enjoys; youth involvement is imperative. Further to this, the country equally opened its doors to public-private partnerships to foster a culture of cooperation and collaboration with private organization and government entities in national building.

Pursuant to this, KCB Foundation, through KCB Bank Rwanda, in partnership with the National Youth Council of Rwanda, extended its youth empowerment flagship programme 2jiajiri, into the country, marking another transformation journey for Rwanda. The programme dubbed KCB Igire launched last year, is geared to liberate the youth from the expectation of selling their labor to the freedom of self-employment. There is a major skills gap among the youth and Ignore targets to build a cadre of skilled youth who can access the much-needed business capital and financial services required to complete the transformation from job seekers to job creators for the rising Rwanda economy.

In 2018, KCB Foundation sponsored 100 youth to study Information and Communication Technology, culinary art and domestic electrical engineering skills in integrated polytechnic regional centers (IPRCs) in Kigali, Ngoma, and Huye respectively. The training was supplemented with mentorship and networking opportunities to prepare beneficiaries for business projects and entrepreneurship. Graduands with the best proposals were given seed capital to start their own business projects. Another 200 youth have been listed for the support this year.

It has only been three years since 2jiajiri was launched in its parent home in Kenya, but the impact is immense and deliberate. About 23,000 youth beneficiaries have been upskilled and received entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy support. Success being realized is a collective effort between the private sector, National Government and Vocational training centers who share in this similar vision; a commitment that must be replicated by other stakeholders for the prosperity of the wider region.

With commitment like this, it will be possible to replicate this success in the wider region and we can prepare the youth for the future and make an investment that we can be sure will pay off in the long term for everybody.

This Opinion was written by Jane Mwangi, the Managing Director of KCB Foundation. For more details, E-mail [email protected]

Jane Mwangi - Managing Director of KCB Foundation