employment structure of any economy reflects its character and level of economic development. Currently one of challenges faced by labour market in developing countries like Rwanda is quality of jobs created. Job quality determines the level of employee welfare, which the reason why policymakers must be concerned about issues of welfare in labour market.
Presently, agriculture or primary sector activities dominate the level and nature of employment in developing countries. Such activities have low prospects in terms of income and development of workers, and there is also the challenge of underemployment for people engaged in primary sector.
However, globalisation and structural reforms in developing countries have led to growth of service and manufacturing sector. This has led to growth of diversified and complex jobs accompanied by competition as economies strive hard to achieve high growth and development.
Growth of productive employment is one of indicators of economic growth and development. Supply of skilled and trained workers and professionals increases productive capacity of economy. Retention of trained and qualified workers depends on job quality. Over past years there has been thrust on quality of jobs and employment all over the world.
Factors affecting quality of job include occupational status, social security, and income from employment, job tenure and training. According to International Labour Organisation countries that encourage creation of quality of jobs grow faster than other countries. Quality of jobs increases productivity of economy and helps in absorbing shocks of financial crisis.
There has been growth of Underemployment among working population in developing countries. Underemployment reflects the underutilisation of productive capacity of the employed population. In developing countries the shares of working poor is high and most workers tend to be employed in vulnerable jobs in expanding informal sectors. In Rwanda there has been considerable increase in employment over last ten years which shows its correlation with growth of country.
In Vision 2020, one of Rwanda seeks to reduce the population dependent on agricultural activities from the current 72 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020. There is an increase in non-agricultural employment in Rwanda with growth of industrialisation and urbanisation.
Employment in Rwanda is undergoing structural change with high growth in service sector activities. There has been growth of hotels and restaurants, tourism and banking activities accompanied by growth of employment in these areas. Employment for women’s and youth is also increasing.
The government aims to move half of the Rwandan labour-force from a low-productive agricultural dominated farm jobs to a more productive industry and services-based economy, thus reducing underemployment and unemployment especially among the youth and women in both urban and rural areas.
Rwanda is trying to push on quality of employment and removing underemployment. There is creation of off-farm jobs to provide formal employment to people and reduce burden on farm sector. According to the latest Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4) report which was released in September 2015, at least 146,000 off-farm jobs having been created in the country annually since 2011.
Currently to enhance welfare of employees in Rwanda, there is Labour Code through which an employer is responsible to maintain health and safety of the workers at workplace. Health insurance and social security contribution reduce financial insecurities related to health and age through health and pension benefits in jobs thus enhancing employee retention in jobs.
Social protection supports labour market activity by allowing households to manage and deal with the consequences of risk and negative shocks to their income.
Many programmes have been developed by government for enhancing quality of employment through institutional strengthening.
Programmes of entrepreneurship development and training are launched to create force of human capital within the country. Entrepreneurship development in the country is very strong initiative by government which will create sustainable job creation. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is providing specific skills to enable job seekers to get quality jobs. The business development centres established by Rwanda Development Board in each district will provide business incubation, training, mentorship, access to IT facilities, and other government services.
Again Employment protection legislation and rights ensure security of tenure of employment and also enhances workplace environment.
Finally, as the country strives to become a middle-income economy by 2020, meaningful employment will be among one of factors to drive growth of economy. Rwanda is among one of country’s which is making strong endeavours in area of quality of employment especially in formal sector. Future strategy needs to focus on challenges of informal employment and quality of jobs in informal employment.
The writer is a senior lecturer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Kigali Campus
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