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The future of jobs and skills in Africa (World Economic Forum)

The future of jobs and skills in Africa (World Economic Forum)

Wed, March 15th, 2017

The WEF have published a research based briefing note “The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa: Preparing the Region for mther Fpourth IOndustrial Revolution” . It uses the latest available data, including through a research partnership with LinkedIn, to provide a concise overview of the region’s education, skills and jobs agenda.

Headline findings include:

  • The World Economic Forum’s Human Capital Index finds that Sub-Saharan Africa currently only captures 55% of its human capital potential, compared to a global average of 65%.
  • As 15 to 20 million increasingly well-educated young people are expected to join the African workforce every year for the next three decades, delivering the ecosystem for quality jobs – and future skills to match – will be imperative for fully leveraging the continent’s demographic dividend.
  • While it is predicted that 41% of all work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation, as are 44% in Ethiopia, 46% in Nigeria and 52% in Kenya; this is likely moderated by comparatively low labour costs and offset by new job creation.
  • Employers across the region already identify inadequately skilled workforces as a major constraint to their businesses, including 41% of all firms in Tanzania, 30% in Kenya, 9% in South Africa and 6% in Nigeria. This pattern may get worse in the future. In South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across occupations will be wholly different by 2020.
  • Often this skills instability stems from the fact that many jobs in the region are becoming more intense in their use of digital technologies.
  • The greatest long-term benefits of ICT intensive jobs in the region are likely to be not in the lower-skilled delivery of digital products or services but in digital design, creation and engineering.
  • To build a pipeline of future skills, Africa’s educators should design future-ready curricula that encourage critical thinking, creativity and emotional intelligence as well as accelerate acquisition of digital and STEM skills to match the way people will work and collaborate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In addition to providing insights on current trends and future projections, the World Economic Forum also aims to provide a platform for multi-stakeholder collaboration to close skills gaps and prepare for the future of work. The Africa Skills Initiative serves as such a platform, consolidating the latest insights, bringing together different businesses’ efforts to address future-oriented skills development and supporting constructive public-private dialogue for urgent and fundamental reform of education systems and labour policies to prepare workforces for the future of jobs.

The Briefing is intended as a practical guide for leaders from business, government, civil society and the education sector to plan for the needs of the future, including those involved in the Africa Skills Initiative. It is also a call to action to the region’s leaders to address urgently the reforms that are needed today to ensure that Africa’s young people can harness the new opportunities that are coming their way.

The full Briefing can be downloaded at: