Reflections on Skills Needed for Africa’s Development Agenda

Luke Wasonga Oct 02, 2020

Inadequacy in Skilled Workforce The skilled workforce remains a critical missing link in the implementation of programme and projects in Africa[1]. This realization propels the need for concerted skills development efforts in the continent. The lack of skill provides an impetus for doing something. It is also a driving force for developing critical technical skills to leverage skills gap in the continent. A large numbers of African employers have cited inadequately skilled work-forces as a major constraint to business expansion[2]. This is aggravated by the mismatch between skills and jobs in the market place. In addition to the mismatch between the number of educated young people seeking jobs and the availability of formal, high-quality jobs, there is the added constraint of young people being inadequately prepared for such roles. Closer dialogue between education providers and industry is needed to align and optimize the region’s and country’s demand and supply of skills. Additionally, the continent’s employers and educators need to establish better tools to enable them to better understand labour markets’ new and emerging skills requirements. The inadequacies in the alignment of skills produced and what the continent needs for transformational agenda provide a driving urge to act in response to present and future skills needs. The other driving force is related to the bulging interest of different stakeholders in exploring the quality of the existing skills. This requires that African governments, with the help of private sector stakeholders, should establish mechanisms to develop tailored approaches to understanding the region’s and country’s evolving skills base and emerging jobs scenarios. For deeper understanding of skills gaps across the regions and countries, more joint work should be initiated to improve data availability on skills-sets to enable the ease of accessibility. Many African economies lack data on progression of labour across higher-skilled and senior roles, making it hard to gain a more nuanced understanding of the region’s and country’s talent. The approach to establish the skills needs is first to be geared towards capturing the areas where skills gaps exist in terms of quality, size, and diversities not only in the human resource sector, but also in key governing institutions and societal organizations. Second, the approach is to establish the multi-dimensional nature of skills needs in order to flesh out the direction of formulating the needed policies, strategies and programmes Skills Set for Transformation The skills needs are to be premised on the identification of critical skills sets needed to realize the continental specific goals and targets. This has to build on the commitments as identified in the individual nation state visions. The focus on the country level capacity is important as the implementation of Agenda 2063 will largely be determined by the domestication and implementation of Agenda 2063 framework at the nation state level. The focus is to be given to the organizational strengths by determining the necessary human skills requirements. At the level of the continental flagship programmes, the determination of skills needs has to endeavor to establish the skills sets needed to ensure optimal mix and availability of both soft and hard skills to implement the transformation agenda. The approach is to establish the transformative skills requirements that are needed to ensure implementation of planned initiatives. This is to promote transformative change management including leadership commitments and emphasizing mind-set shift towards shared goals at both regional and continental levels. The change management process presupposes enhanced ownership on processes directed towards managing results. Managing for results alludes to the need for analyzing the implementation realities for the transformational agenda. The approach to determine the skills need has to endeavor to address the fundamentals and constants of the outside environment. This has to reflect the factors that the governments and their development partners have to consider as “given”, as constraints, and as challenges. In reflections, the sense emerges that the framework for determination of skills needs has to aim at identifying technical sector specific skills that are needed to realize the goals and targets espoused in Agenda 2063. This has to include analysis of specialized skills at all levels. These are the skills that are necessary to convert the natural resources into tradable goods and to give rise to value addition at country and continental levels. Skills such as innovators, engineers, bio-technologists, oncologists, geologists and mineralogist among others will be needed as a matter of urgency to keep the continental transformation agenda on course. To complement the effective utilization of specialized skills, the determination of skills needs has to establish the composite[3] capacities that are essential for the continental transformative agenda. The success or failure of implementation of the flagship initiatives under the agenda 2063 will be contingent upon the strategic composites skills. These include, but not limited to project planning, result-based management, management of partnership relations and strategic thinking. Conceptual Basis The model in figure below postulates that for the goals and targets of the continental flagship initiatives to be realized, a critical level of skills set must exist. The skills are required at country, regional and continental levels. The precept is that the country priorities are ray images of the priorities established at both regional and continental levels. The skills set required to realize specific goals and targets at country level have also be required at regional and continental levels, except that this has to be at an exploded magnitude. The requisite skills set have to be identified and mapped to show how the aspirations and visions of the nation states in Africa are linked to those of the respective Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Subsequently, their linkages with the goals and initiatives of the Agenda 2063 have to be established. Identification of specific skills set that is vital for the realization of transformative agenda. The skills set include, but not limited to imperative skills that the nation states, in particular and the continent in general must create through their educational systems in order to realize their expected aspirations. The determination of skills set needs to focus on establishing priorities of each of the AU Agenda 2063 flagship initiatives and their corresponding priorities at the regional and country levels. The important concern here is to endeavor to create a harmony in the implementation process of these priority initiatives that are situated at different spatial levels. Even though the implementation is at different spatial levels, they are intrinsically inter-linked in terms of the expected long term outcomes for transformation agenda of the continent. Rays of Skills Need Imperatives The determination of skills set needs is to be premised on the identification of critical skills set needed to realize the country level specific goals and target as identified in their visions and or National Development Plans (NDP). These are then mapped to identify how they are linked to the aspirations and visions of their respective Regional Economic Commissions (RECs) and subsequently their linkages to the goals and initiatives of the Agenda 2063. This linkage is shown in the figure below (Creativebox 2018). [1] ACBF, 2017 [2] World Economic Forum: The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa Preparing the Region for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, May 2017 [3] Composite capacities relate to strategic planning, critical thinking and results-based management. It emphasizes the significance of programme development, project planning and implementation.

Intrinsic Linkages at Spatial Levels § For each of the Continental Flagship initiative, there are corresponding priorities at regional and country levels § Even though the implementation of flagships are at different spatial levels, they are intrinsically inter-linked § The skills set requirements are similarly intrinsically inter-linked

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