Releasing the huge potential for Africa in terms of social development and economic growth will ultimately come down to education and the employability of its young people and its future generations.
Yet in Africa today nearly half of the population are young people with little education with youth unemployment rates more than double those of adults in most African countries. Even those with a good education are often not prepared for work.
So the launch of AfricaWorking – an initiative that aims to help break a generational cycle of poverty by developing talent to provide the skilled employees and entrepreneurs that businesses need – is extremely welcome.
200,000 young people and 50,000 entrepreneurs are set to be supported by AfricaWorking, a new Association announced earlier this month by a group of companies, including Barclays Africa, Emerging World, FranklinCovey, Knod, Microsoft, Safal Group and Syngenta all came together to announce AfricaWorking. Support will include information, tools, resources, learning and training, mentoring, coaching, internships and job opportunities across a variety of industries, including business, technology, service, manufacturing, consumer good and agribusiness.
“Most large corporations are looking at youth skills development in one form or another, because it’s crucial to their business. The idea behind AfricaWorking is to bring these corporations together, align our efforts, share our learnings and build human capital on a pan-Africa scale,” says Lutz Ziob, Dean of the Microsoft 4Afrika Academy.
Charles Reed, General Manager for Community Investment for Barclays Africa, adds: “By 2045, Africa’s labour market is projected to be the biggest in the world. There is a great opportunity for us to engage the youth, help them develop relevant skills and find meaningful employment opportunities. Key to this is for us to collaborate and leverage technology where it makes sense to do so.”
The Association will leverage existing approaches and two bespoke ‘engines’ to help get youth career- and business-ready, and create a pipeline of recruitable talent for member companies. The initial platforms will leverage YouthWorks – a Microsoft entrepreneurship platform linking youth to career guidance, internships and entry-level job opportunities, and an employability platform powered by Knod. AfricaWorking members will use this platform to create their talent pipeline and shape the skilled employees when and where they need them, through real world projects that form the basis of this innovative learning model.
“There is currently a significant mismatch between the skills youth have and the skills employers are looking for. Our goal is to connect learners and employers in a unique 21st Century experience based learning model, which develops skilled youth and an energised workforce of competent employees,” says Graham Doxey, CEO and Founder of Knod.