Estherine Fotabong
Africa Industry

African countries discussing solutions to skills shortage

A total of 15 African countries are holding a three-day conference in Johannesburg to share best practices about how to increase skills training for the youths to reduce unemployment and grow the economies of African countries.

The meeting which started on Wednesday is hosted by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) comprising African governments, international partners and the private sector. Estherine Fotabong, AUDA-NEPAD’s Head Programme Implementation and Coordination Directorate, said Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) should be used as a critical driver of skills development to make Africa ready for industrialization.

“We need appropriate infrastructure, collaboration with private sector so that children are given education that is relevant to the market. There must be political will to provide education that will prepare children to explore opportunities using technology to leapfrog into the future,” said Fotabong.

She called on governments to ensure that the youths are supported with enabling environment and finance for entrepreneurship. Fotabong stated that there should be regional or continental uniform certification so that youths could seek opportunities across borders. She said, “TVET is at the border between education and work. We need to have coherent national policies to move from skills development to employment in order not to fail our youths.”

Fotabong emphasized that there is a need for a regional and continental framework to be implemented to create jobs. Miki Nozawa, associate publications officer for UNESCO-UNEVOC International Center for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, called for collaboration. She stated that Africa should get along with the global trends like digitization and automation.

“Countries should be prepared and adapt to future jobs.” Gerda Magnus, Department of High Education and Training chief director for innovation, said home-grown solutions are needed to address Africa’s unemployment challenges.

She stated that South Africa’s unemployment rate is 27 percent with youths unemployment at 52 percent which needs urgent action. Magnus said, “It is critical for us to share collective wisdom and come up with solutions tailor-made for our needs.

We need our home grown solutions which are relevant to our situation we face as a country and continent as a whole.” The conference will end on Friday when a resolution to take the continent forward would be released.