By Elias Hakizimana
Students from airline department at the University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies (UTB) have raised concerns over limited access to labour market which they say is still small.
Moreover, they complain that even having industrial attachment opportunity is a problem as employers do not consider their certificates.
Clémentine Tuyisenge, one of students of UTB,/IATA-UFTA in aviation courses says that the market is still small as they face challenges when seeking jobs and industrial attachments.
One of solutions from within as Tuyisenge said is to create innovation, which can give them opportunities for self-employment.
“We need to observe in the industry and see what to bring-in as new, it will prevent us from thinking of impossible employment in a certain company. In fact, it is very difficult to find either a job or industrial attachment,” Tuyisenge noted.
Tuyisenge said that the University takes them at airports to observe and learn practically but employment is still an issue.
To tackle the challenge of employment, the University of Tourism tries its best to link students with experts whose testimonies reflect the ways graduates can pass through to create jobs.
On October 9, 2017, Aviation Development (AviaDev) visited UTB’s Aviation students and shared experience with them.
AviaDev is a unique event bringing together airports, airlines, governments, industry suppliers and tourism authorities to determine the future air connectivity and infrastructure development of Africa.
Tuyisenge said that the visit of experts in aviation is an added value to knowledge sharing and to elaborate their thinking about innovation ideas.
“I am very happy and I thank them to come to share such experience, I think I have learnt a lot from them,” Tuyisenge said.
“The experience I have got from these experts is to be open mind and not to fear, I can’t also give up despite challenges. Aviation industry in Rwanda requires qualified people with certificates and diplomas, despites many people use to give up due to difficulties of employers and during internship, I believe I will be one of professionals in this industry,” She added.
Challenges to labour market
“We have many challenges as I said, we do not have much opportunity to get internship and jobs here in Rwanda because local companies are not giving us internship as they complain about the degrees we get from here because they are diplomas, they want us to have bachelor’s degrees or PhDs, if you say you have only a diploma of two years, they do not feel like you are able to work,” Tuyisenge noted.
However, IATA students are qualified to work in aviation industry after one year-training at UTB.
Tuyisenge requests employers to consider capability of graduates than their degrees.
“What I request them I want them to give us opportunity to show them what we can do.” She said.
Vincent Kalisa graduated from IATA airport operations in UTB in March and has got opportunity to be employed by Rwandair Airline. He said Aviation is very expensive job which is hard to find at the market.
He requests the government and UTB’s leadership to facilitate students by extending opportunity for industrial attachment in other airline companies.
“What we can request university and the government in general is to extend opportunities for students to be able to make practical skills when they are still at school because it enables them to put into practice what they learn theoretically. It is also had to learn theories and do practice later.” Kalisa said.
Benjamin Tuyisabe, also a student in Airport Operations at UTB stresses that having one airport in the country is an issue which contributes to students’ failure to pass their industrial attachment.
Kayibanda Ingabire Julian, UTB’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of planning administration and finance said that bringing experts closer the students is amongst the ways of boosting their skills and professionalism in Aviation industry.
“A long ago, we have been working with both Rwandan and foreigners experts including Avi-Assist experts, and other institutions to help students get skills through knowledge sharing,” Kayibanda said.
Kayibanda said however that there is a hope for change as hospitality industry is still growing in Rwanda.
“Well, you know where our country came from, I think something was improves since 20 years ago, and we still have further hope, it is the reason why we train students to increase the number of professionals in this industry in next generation, we try to extend, we train students to service in the country but also to go abroad for service as they cannot stay only here in Rwanda, they can also go to exploit opportunities outside the country.” Kayibanda said.
UTB has currently four leaders in Rwandair who graduated from its campus and some others are serving in Nigeria and in other countries in the region.
Every year, UTB produces over 1,000 students from different departments including Aviation, hotel and management and Tourism Industry.
“Our plan in 10 years is to increase the number of students who will be in key position of hospitality industry as we are still only one University in the region offering such courses,” Kayibanda noted.
Jonh Howell, Managing Director and Founder of AviaDev said that it is a wrong message that there is no market in aviation.
“It is a wrong message, it took too much time in Africa talking about the problems but solution is here; the solution is to mobilize the government, to mobilize air operation environment to make airline service more successful, and I think it is going to be successful in next 15 to 20 years.”Howell said.
Partnership as a solution
Kayibanda said that it is still an issue of partnerships and that the University is seeking for more partnerships to bridge the gap of graduates employment and opportunities for industrial attachment.
“We are trying to address it in terms of developing more partnerships and encourage the students as well as the industry to open the doors to the students because if students finish here they cannot be able to participate in the industry if they had not had that exposure, so , our wish is to talk to the industry, to the various hotels, and to various tour companies to be able open doors to the students to access the industry, the challenge is that industry is not opening doors, as we go on I think that the partnership is going to grow,” Kayibanda said.