Driving the digital workforce of the future in Africa

A group of innovative universities in Sub-Saharan Africa are working on a common problem. How can they bring economic opportunities to the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population?

The answer lies in upscaling training in digital skills. An International Finance Corporation report estimated that 230 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030, creating over 650 million training opportunities.

Universities are stepping up to play a decisive role: bridging the digital gap between employers, teachers and young aspiring entrepreneurs and employees.

Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic made much of this possible, by accelerating internet access throughout Africa and equipping students to learn online. As universities innovate, digital skills – and related capabilities like critical thinking – could become the catalyst for broad economic vitality and a wave of African innovation.

The International Finance Corporation’s Digital for Tertiary Education Program (D4TEP) has been helping universities develop their own digital acceleration plans. As they apply advanced technology to improve operations and create better student and faculty experiences, they also raise their ability to impart the necessary skills to large numbers of students.

Five key elements are important for any university developing employability-focused talent in digital skills – in Africa or any emerging economy:

  • Making employability a first priority, with a strategy for accomplishing this mission.
  • Setting up enough organisational support and adequate financial and human resources. The most effective organisational structures involve close coordination between the career centre, alumni relations, entrepreneurship support and admissions, so that data from the entire talent function can be leveraged to continually attract students.
  • Promoting employer engagement, with segmentation strategies that tailor student referrals, internship opportunities and other connections to different types of companies.
  • Focusing on the quality and relevance of learning. Besides technological skills, the most employable students are those who have training and practice in critical thinking, teamwork and team management and creativity and innovation as well as basic employment readiness.
  • Establishing the appropriate management information systems, with key performance indicators for analysis and evaluation, as well as the ability to set goals and targets to track progress over time.

As these programmes grow in scale, they will also become financially more sustainable, and they will develop forms that are unique to Africa. Others will join and these skill-based networks could become a linchpin of growth for the entire continent’s economy.

Source: https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20230404144427258