Rwanda: How Kigali’s annual employment fair created 840 jobs for youth

It’s 9am, and Joel Dusabimana, a university graduate is moving from one table to another looking for a job or professional internship-related information from various companies that offer different services including banking, insurance, consultancy, equipment, recycling and hospitality industry in Rwanda.

The graduate who completed his university studies in 2015 from the University of Rwanda’s Faculty of Science and Technology; biology department has not yet got any job. He is one of some 18,000 unemployed graduates, going by the estimates based on the fourth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4) that was conducted by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda in 2013/2014.

Dusabimana was one of the hundreds of job-seekers that attended the 4th Kigali job fair codenamed Job Net, at Pétit Stade, Remera on Thursday. The core objective of Job Net, which was initiated in 2013, is to provide a unique opportunity for job-seekers and employers to network and exchange information during the Job Net event; disseminate job related information; and promote self-employment and entrepreneurship to the youth and the Rwandan work force in general.

What statistics say

So far, according to figures from the City of Kigali, over 840 graduates got job opportunities through Kigali’s job seekers-employers linkage. These jobs were gotten thanks to the Kigali Employment Service Centre (KESC) and the three Job Net events until 2016.

Over 2,400 job seekers had applied for jobs in that period, according to the city authorities.

As explained by the vice-mayor for social affairs in the City of Kigali, Patricia Muhongerwa those who got jobs include over 2,040 graduates who came to Kigali Employment Service Centre (KESC) and employment fair searching for jobs. She noted that 841 secured employment opportunities, including 209 who got permanent jobs; 393 temporary jobs, while 99 managed to start their own businesses.

About 140 others got professional internships through the partnership between the City of Kigali and National Capacity Building Secretariat (NCBS). These are able to acquire experience and on-job training, but also get transport and lunch facilitation.

2017 job fair

“We have interacted with the employers and they are explaining to us what they do and, through these interactions, we are able to find services which fall into our studies and career,” Dusabimana told Business Times as he displayed his application documents.

“The employers are telling us to leave our CVs and contacts so that they can contact us in case they have any job openings or internship opportunities. I have hope that this job fair can open up such opportunities for us,” he said.

While officially opening this year’s job fair, Gaspard Musonera, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour (MIFOTRA), said the initiative helps employers to get access to skilled graduates and open-minded job seekers, as well as offers school leavers opportunities for internships or apprenticeships to compliment the knowledge acquired at college. It also enables them get requisite help in acquisition of some work relevant experience.

Expectant youth check out offers at different firms’ stalls. The job fair was attended by over 1,000 job-seekers, city authorities say. / Nadege Imbabazi

According to Musonera, the public sector employs less than 3 per cent of the total graduates each year, while the formal private sector represents a share of 7 per cent, with the informal sector contributing around 90 per cent share of total employment in the country.

What employers, job-seekers say

Marie-Claire Tuyisenge, a university student, said that she learnt about the job fair from a TV advert on RBA TV.

“I am optimistic that I will get a job from this networking event. The first ‘requirement’ is that one has self-confidence,” the University of Lay Adventists of Kigali (UNILAK) accounting finalist said with optimism.

The programme, she added, is different from the normal ways of looking for jobs in that it is open to all the job-seekers, including those still in school, removing the barriers between employers and potential employees as all job-seekers are free to submit their applications and try their luck.

Victor Iryayo, a member of marketing team at Ecobank Rwanda, said the job fair gives job-seekers an opportunity to “try their luck” with different firms in attendance.

He added that the lender received over 120 applications during the fair last week, noting that they would sort the applicants’ CVs according to the field of studies such as ICT, finance and accounting.

“Whenever there is a vacancy, we always go through the list and contact those that meet minimum qualifications for interviews. Those that meet “terms and conditions” and satisfy the interview panel are then taken on as our staff,” Iryayo said.

He said Ecobank normally gives internships to fresh graduates, who are taken through on-job training in different departments, depending on their area of interest and specialisation.

According to KESC officials, over 1,000 job-seekers and 70 employers participated in this year’s event.

City of Kigali vice-mayor Muhongerwa commended the employers and firms that participated in the job fair last year for providing employment opportunities to over 800 unemployed graduates over the past years.

The city vice-mayor was particularly grateful that organisations like Babyl Health Rwanda, healthcare service providers, which employed over 70 graduates during the last job fair.

The UK-based company launched its digital healthcare system in Rwanda last year to enable patients to access medical services using their mobile phones. Rwanda became the first country in Africa to host the operations of this firm.

Babyl chief executive officer Tracey McNeill told Business Times that the annual job fair is a great initiative that’s already showing good results. McNeill said the firm received about 500 applications and employed over 70 of applicants.

“So, young people who are seeking jobs go to the fair and we think that is a really successful way of recruiting talented Rwandan people in the digital healthcare system,” she said.

She added that the firm’s recruits from last year’s job fair are dynamic, hard-working and have exhibited excellent performance.

Tackling unemployment among graduates

Despite efforts made in tackling youth unemployment, Musonera said, it is high compared to the rest of the population, which he said calls for continuous Joint efforts.

EICV4 shows that youth unemployment is 3.3 per cent countrywide against 2 per cent unemployment rate for all Rwandans. For university graduates, unemployment rate is at 13.5 per cent of 135,000 graduates. In the third Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey of 2010/2011, unemployment rate among university graduates was 5.5 per cent.

In a bid to facilitate job-creation among the graduates, the government through the Business Development Fund (BDF), covers 75 per cent of the guarantee required by financial institutions to give loans to young people with promising business ideas or those with enterprises with huge potential to expand and create more.

The Fund also gives TVET graduates start-up equipment for which they only pay half of the cost as the remaining half is subsidised by the government.

Source: The New Times

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