Minister roots for technical skills
The Minister of Education Dr Vincent Biruta says there is need to promote non-farm sources of livelihood to accelerate economic growth and development.
“If we want to considerably reduce poverty, we must diversify our skills in order to exploit our minimum resources as we create more opportunities for national development,” he said.
He spoke in Nyanza district while awarding certificates to 1,400 students who completed various vocational and technical courses last week.
The students acquired hands-on trainings technical and entrepreneurial skills including construction and building, hospitality, automobile and electricity technical services, ICT, plumbing and dressmaking among others.
“Our young people should be initiated to becoming productive and depend on themselves as they help others lifting from poverty,” the minister said.
He said that poverty reduction in the country succeeded in areas where there are more non- farming activities; hence a need to promote them.
On the other hand, the national skills audit of 2009 revealed that the country is short of technicians in the public, private, and non-profit sectors by 60 percent. This means that the country lacks qualified technical workforce.
That is why the government set up the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) to provide, through its Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centres (IPRCs), a strategic response to the needs for skills development.
“This is the only one way that, we hope, will significantly reduce poverty,” Biruta said.
In the process, WDA has identified critical priority areas and is now partnering with private institutions, trade associations and trainers to ensure a better synergy between education and employment, says Jerome Gasana, the director general of WDA.
“Our mission is to provide people with competences enabling them to become job creators rather than job seekers through entrepreneurial skills,” he said.
Agnes Kwizera of Nyamagabe district completed her modules in customer care, business planning. Though she has been a dressmaker, but she expects to improve her work.
“I have been in dressmaking industry, but I didn’t have enough knowledge of how to make it a more successful business,” she said. “I now know how to treat my customers, have gained more passion for my job and will take advantage of these skills I acquired to develop myself.”
Recent studies by the Rwanda Development Board show that customer care in Rwanda is still very poor at all levels.
“Not only technical skills are enough to compete, but also good attitudes towards customers are essentials,” advised Francois Rutayisire, the chairperson of the Private Sector Federation in Southern Province.
The initiative is part of various reforms in education sector aiming at closing skills gap and increase access to education and development of technical and vocational training (TVET).
Development partners including USAID and Belgium, through its development agencies support the initiative.
“Currently, our development agencies in conjunction with WDA are implementing a comprehensive TVET support programme aiming at contributing to increasing access of youth to quality technical and vocational education and training by providing them with skills needed in labour market,” said Antoon Delie, the head of cooperation in the Belgian Embassy .
He added that the programme supports the WDA in the development of national TVET strategy; including the development of competence-based curricula which will be implemented across the country.
However, another issue has been start up capital for those who complete their trainings. The education minister says they are proposing to provide some basic materials for those who graduate.