Nigeria population in the next 35 years is expected to overtake that of the United States and stand behind China after India as the third most populous country in the entire world. Currently at the top 10 in the most populous countries, majority of Nigerians are youths and one of the biggest issue this west African nation is having is unemployment.
Apart from Nigeria, nearly majority of the African population consists of youths under the age of 35 and unemployment among African youths is on the record high as before. In a report gotten from the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) which is an economic development program of the African Union, estimated that about 60% of Africa’s unemployed youths are 10 years younger making them under the age of 25.
One major issue the organization was able to recognize as the major cause of the poverty level in this developing nations of Africa is the result of the quality of Education which in turn leads to the lack of job opportunities which all in turn lead to social security risks, political instability and unsustainable development.
Other complex reasons for unemployed Sub Sahara Africa youths can also be traced to the lack or inadequacy of skills requirements in professional fields.
Even though it seems all these might be the fault of the governments of African nations but according to Korn Ferry, a US-Based consulting firm estimated that by the year 2030, the demand for skilled workforce will exceed it’s supply globally which will in turn lead to global shortage of talent of more than 85.2 million people worldwide.
“The gap between the skills of the current workforce and the skills businesses need to achieve their growth plans is widening,” said Gerald Seegers, who is the director of Human Resource Services at PwC Southern Africa, made it known in a market research report. “Despite rising business confidence equating to more jobs, organisations are struggling to find the right people to fill these positions.”
Based on the global survey which the PwC did found out that among a total 1,300 CEOs from 68 nations found that about 96% of African CEOs, then another 90% of South East nations CEOs and then some 87% of South African CEOs had concerns about the lack of skills – despite the fact that half of the organisations surveyed aim to hire again.
Of these organisations, technology and engineering firms are struggling the most with the shortage of skilled employees.
“Half of CEOs plan to hire more people in the next 12 months, meaning competition for talent will be intense at the same time as the battleground has been redrawn,” Seegers said. “Business leaders are looking for people with a far wider range of skills than ever before. Gone are the days of life-time careers; chameleon-like employees who apply their skills whenever and wherever they’re needed are now in high demand.”
Moustapha Kamal Gueye, head of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Green Jobs Programme, agrees that there has been a significant skills shift in the current work landscape.
“Emphasis must be put on lifelong learning, as a key difference from traditional education and training systems, as skills required today may become obsolete for tomorrow’s jobs,” he told news outlet CGTN Africa.
According to him, younger generations needs to possess all the essential and foundational skills needed which can be applied in different fields of practices. This had in fact led some organizations to prioritize skills over experiences. For example, Facebook is known to prefer extremely skilled professionals over experienced potential employees. According to the company’s vice Human Resource manager, Janelle Gale who said that “Skills really matters the most” and thereby encourages applicants to always pursue applications for jobs in which they possess the relevant skills needed even if they lack the experience.
WHAT SKILLS ARE ON-DEMAND IN AFRICA
ICT is growing all around the world and Africa isn’t left behind. The ability to be able to interact with computerized devices and systems is a really important skill to possess. This is in fact the reason why many companies in Africa requires their employees to possess at least a basic understanding of the usage of computers in their day to day activities.
Even though ICT skills isn’t necessarily the most outstanding or most important skills needed. After all, each individual countries within this continent have a different socioeconomic paradigm as well as political regional and national consideration which might affect the skills needed.
But still, technology is on it’s rise and so is the need for skilled workers who are talented in these areas. According to the World Economic Forum which foresees a really strong demand for workers who can combine both digital and STEM skills with more traditional knowledge. This can for example be in the case of Business operations data analysts or a Digital-mechanical engineer (An engineer who uses analytics to improve designs). Because these skilled workers are sought-after since they have a strong blend of knowledge of their industry with the most recent analytical tools to quickly adapt business strategies.
Other skills that is in-demand includes Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well as Digital Marketing competence which is really required to help companies drive cyber growth in a world that is becoming more virtual which requires many businesses to compete in the virtual world of internet just as they compete in the physical world.
For professionals working in the technology sector, experience in machine learning and artificial intelligence is highly valued by employers across all industries.
And or course, software development and project financial planning have also become highly valued skill sets in different kinds of business activities and organisations. Designers who can create the best User Experience for costumer retention is all needed.
WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD
African governments and private organizations aren’t giving up as many initiatives have been put in place to bridge the skills gap especially in the Sub-Sahara. In South Africa for example, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a programme that introduces subjects such as coding and data analytics at a primary school level which is said o prepare young people “For the future jobs“
Another bigger player in the initiation includes Energy Company, Chevron which partnered in 2010 with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to fund a partnership initiative to introduce entrepreneurship as a subject in secondary schools in Angola.
This Entrepreneurship Curriculum Programme is meant to foster the skills needed among young people to create businesses which can lead to an outburst of a more sustainable private sector.
As part of the African Union’s Second Decade of Education (2006-2015), the continental Technical and Vocational Education Training Strategy (TVET) provides recommendations to address policy issues, challenges and gaps that constrain the implementation of initiatives and programmes for skills development on the continent.
TVET was devised to foster skills development and youth employment. In January 2016, African Heads of State and Government also adopted the continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) to deliver better education standards, increase levels of quality employment and scale up entrepreneurship and innovation.
In support of this pledge, the African Union Commission, the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), and German organisations financed through the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) developed the Skills Initiative for Africa (SIFA). The Initiative aims to promote the occupational prospects of young Africans through the support of skills development programmes, close cooperation and investment in vocational training.
With so much at hand, there is a need for a more robust system that encourages African youths of the Gen Z to go more into tech related fields basically due to the high demand for such sill in the current world. As more tech and AI based devices are released every year, it’s a just a matter of time before more jobs are lost to these machines.
According to Elon Musk who had always been against the concept of AI, he said there is need to go into tech based fields as well as human relationship/interaction careers. Something he felt robots can’t do even in the future.