According to the World Economic Forum research findings contained in a report entitled “The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa”, “Sub-Saharan Africa currently only captures 55% of its human capital potential, compared to a global average of 65%.
Africa is, and will continue to be the most youthful continent in the world. Today it is estimated that Africans aged 15-35 make up roughly 40% of its population. However youth unemployment is one of Africa’s greatest challenges. By 2030, Africa will be home to more than one-quarter of the world’s under-25 population. Further the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) represents a radical change in the way we live, work and relate to each other. It is a new chapter in human development, enabled by extraordinary technology. 4IR poses new challenges and great opportunities for the continent.
It is essential for Africa to harness the demographic dividend. Today on World Youth Skills Day, here are 3 essential skills that will position and prepare African youth for the labour market:
- STEM subjects
An education in science, technology, engineering or mathematics can indicate that a jobseeker is an innovator and critical thinker, someone who is able to make meaningful connections between school, community, workplace and global issues. STEM skills are increasingly necessary in a knowledge-based economy. STEM knowledge is also necessary for the labour entrants in the 4IR.
A combination of “global” and “local” skills – i.e. global knowledge and local context – is an asset in an increasingly globalised world. It is necessary for African youth to have a worldwide view within the African context to leverage and unlock local and regional value.
- ‘Soft skills’
Soft skills are communication, teamwork and problem solving. These skills enable a person to be an adaptable, lifelong learner. Furthermore there should be a focus on personal development, interpersonal communication and leadership training that ensures that students are well equipped to enter the labour market after graduating.