How tech may solve skills gap, industry leaders outline road map

Studies reveal how African youth will become the world’s future workforce, but that’s not news. The intrigue here is how stats show how Africa’s technological competitiveness is growing, particularly in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, including South Africa.

According to some business leaders across various tech industries, tech appears to be solving the skills gap on the continent while democratizing access to jobs.

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While it remains imperative to equip African youth and workers with the skills necessary to be part of the desired future workforce, technology appears to be the answer as it appears to be already stepping into the necessary space for a desired solution.

In the past, people would have to study for long degrees to enter into these industries.  This has changed thanks to the manner in which technology is changing how we learn, consume information, and where we learn from.

Essential ICT skills training

From Huawei, Noluthando Madzivhe, Talent Development Manager at Huawei SA, speaks passionately about the transformative role of technology in bridging the skills gap and opening up new opportunities for Africa’s burgeoning youth population and the urgency to equip African youth with the necessary tech skills to thrive in the future global workforce.

She affirms how Huawei is at the forefront of this transformative agenda through ICT Academy and various skills development and training programs.   These initiatives are meticulously designed to shorten the learning curve traditionally associated with entering high-demand sectors such as insurance, computer science, and healthcare.

By providing accessible and practical tech education, Huawei is not just preparing individuals for the job market but is fundamentally altering the landscape of industry entry, making it more inclusive and equitable.

From Zoho Asnrew Bourne, Regional Head at Zoho added that the right tech tools at the right price can support digital literacy and develop the ICT skills South Africa needs.

“We need to future-proof children so that they are equipped to apply for jobs that require digital and development skills.”

“With low-code platforms, for example, citizen developers can create complex and powerful business applications without requiring costly and lengthy training. Most low-code application development can be managed with users who only have moderate technical knowledge,” he adds.

Soft skills training

“With a vast range of skills required within the broader tourism sector, there is a great opportunity for youth and especially young women to forge careers in the industry. Career openings exist across a number of disciplines from accommodation to marketing, and many other diverse products and services,” says Genevie Langer, Marketing Manager at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront.

She adds how an often overlooked skill was creativity which includes problem-solving, but also the use of design tools and learning how to produce creative campaign ideas.

These skills can be learned at virtually any stage of a person’s career but are best learned early, she added.

Gail Odgers, Head of Acquisition at Sportingbet mentioned how mentorship and coaching played a critical role in providing access to career opportunities:

“It’s important for systems to be put in place that facilitate mentorship, learning opportunities and skills development for women and this needs to be a continuous process. Also, soft skills development and engagement leveraging industry updates, coaching, and engaging with other women in the industry at conferences.”

There are several platforms for creative skills training, including Udemy and Canva. The tourism sector has the capacity to absorb a large number of employees, some positions with low barriers to entry, making it an ideal choice for school leavers and first jobbers. It is unique in that it also offers young people the opportunity to learn ‘on the job’ and to progress through the ranks to a managerial position.

Vis Govender, Group CEO at First Equity Group and Co-Founder at Everything.Insure commented on the value of AI and machine learning skills training, noting how by using technologies such as AI, machine learning, and data analysis, insurtech was enabling the creation of insurance products with intelligent underwriting that are more competitively priced, empowering consumers with the ability to make changes to their insurance plans or submit a claim anywhere at any time, and facilitating the ability to stop and start their insurance plan based on when they need it and when they don’t.”

Ursula Fear, Salesforce senior talent programme manager, says that while we need AI specialists to help solve local technology challenges, we need to ensure that these specialists are empowered to implement rapidly, monitor, and ensure best security practices when it comes to AI. “The world is moving towards one in which AI will be pervasively integrated into business systems and processes. With that comes an increased risk of cyber-attacks, and the future will require knowledgeable IT professionals who can implement solutions, especially if South Africa is to be globally competitive,” says Fear.

Huawei SA’s Madzivhe concluded by noting the implications of opening access to education and training.

“By empowering African youth with cutting-edge tech skills, we are contributing to the continent’s ability to compete on the global stage. The focus on practical, technology-driven education ensures that the workforce of tomorrow is not only equipped to meet the demands of the future but also to innovate and lead in the digital world.”

Also read: Everlytic launches new playbook for email marketing success

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