The Accra Hub of the Global Shapers Community on Thursday May 31, 2018 assembled an interesting panel to discuss the Future of Work and how the Ghanaian labour force can remain relevant. The conversation which is part of the Hubâ€™s quarterly #AccraDiscourse Series as is attended by young people, policymakers, leaders of industry and entrepreneurs of all kinds.
Why Future of Work in Ghana
The Ghanaian economy being one that has seen a â€˜tectonicâ€™ shifts in industrial capacity and the emergence of new growth generating sectors, is presented challenges and opportunities which policy makers continue to grapple with. High levels of graduate unemployment with graduates taking nearly a decade to secure their first job, while only 10 percent actually find jobs in their first year post graduation, has become a challenge for the economy. A confluence of global factors including; technological innovation, education and skill training, trade relationships between the global North and South, capital and finance, climate change, amongst others will continue to exert pressure and exacerbate the dynamics underlying the economy. Drastic measures and innovative thinking will thus become the defining factors of work in the near future.
The panel and audience being direct stakeholders and leaders in industry, made remarks worth noting from a Ghanaian as well as global perspectives. Elizabeth Bintliff, Regional Officer for Junior Achievement Africa, who provided the keynote address was quick to indicate that recent social interventions implemented by the Ghanaian government underscores the fact job-creation is a priority that must be tackled.
Lauding the Ghanaian governmentâ€™s efforts, she explained that the demand for long-term or sustainable jobs would mean that far reaching policies like those that reform the system of education must be put in place if government is to create the enabling environment for sustainable jobs now and in the future.
To Elizabeth,Â â€œ[Ghana]â€¦ is still educating young people as their parents and grandparents were educated; whereas the difference between the world they live in and the world their parents grew up in is the difference between rotary phones and smart phones.â€� Further observations were made regarding the technological evolution of the world, and how education and skill training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), will be necessary for job security in the near future.
Again the profile of the Ghanaian labour force came under scrutiny, as an Alumni of the Global Shaper Community Accra Hub and Director of GhanaThink Foundation, opined that, increasingly Ghanaian workers risk losing their positions to expatriates who typically are on top of their jobs, in an ever changing and adaptive workplace. To wit, innovate your skill set or someone who does will eat your lunch.
The information asymmetry between job seekers and demands of industry required significant attention. This, Farida Bedwei, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Logicel Ghana Limited and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, observed had created an unhealthy mindset to career choices among job seekers which adversely impacts the job market. Limited respected for blue-collar jobs coupled with the apathetic approach to work, leads to low output which in turn affects the living standards of employees, Farida subsequently argued.
Bringing global perspectives to the conversation, marketing whiz and founder of POPsocial, Everette Taylor, acknowledged the vast amount of resources available over the internet, indicating that these will continue to help young entrepreneurs and African-owned businesses to have more representation and awareness. The reworking of the educational curricular which was top of the agenda of the discussion, was argued to have a strong content on Internet of Things training for the educationally deprived to unlock further potentials.
Everette, was quick to indicate the relevance of technology entrepreneurs who are leading the new business models and growth generating sectors of the Ghanaian economy to take cognisance of the pressing needs of the society to ensure service delivery is consistent with these needs, as scalable and sustainable businesses in the future in the technology industry will depend on this.
Summary policy action points
- The evolving needs of the economy is demanding and will continue to demand technology creators and not only users. The assumption that one needs to move from a consumer of technology to being a creator is rather warped. This implies a refocus of technological education to creation rather than consumption if our labour force is to remain competitive in the future.
- Skills development and training in Ghana for rural labour should be demand based and not at the behest of donors and programme designers. Crucially, rural labour does not owe solution providers any gratitude the skills and training provided. Skills providers should be sensitive not only to the needs of the domestic rural economy and how it is evolving, but also the current trends in tech applications to support rural economy.
- Scalable and well target mentoring programmes connecting job seekers to relevant industry captains at scale. This should not be structured as a system within which mentors validate the strategies of mentees, but rather help them curate their own appreciation of the evolving dynamics around industry and plug in accordingly.
- The new and emerging industries are all technology enabled (Agriculture, Financial Services, Crude Oil, E-commerce and Education amongst others). And the skills sets being acquired must take due cognisance of this. Across the continent, ICT systems, Â and soft and hardÂ Infrastructure, will strongly influence the nature of work in the short to medium and long term. Digital design, creation and engineering all must remain in focus.
- Increasingly, language diversity can no longer be downplayed in what work will look like in the future, and computer language is ever critical. STEM education will be critical for job security in the near future, as less than 2% of African University students are STEM literate within the context of emerging work trends.
- Artificial Intelligence, Job security and the current state of the Ghanaian and African economy throws up some challenges to the labour market. These present an opportunity in re-education and re-tooling of the existing labour force, as Africa is fertile for innovative skills and tools.
- Entrepreneurship should not be considered by young graduates without any experience as the way out of the system. Some amount of skills training and development is necessary as well as an understanding of the job ecosystem.
- Entrepreneurs should not wait for the validation of mentors. They should get a good understanding of the market and how it is evolving for the market to validate their products, ideas and creation as entrepreneurs.
- Most initiatives of governments may not be sustainable, and thus, entrepreneurs have a critical role to play in shaping the future of work and the economy.
NB: Put together by Global Shapers Community Accra Hub.
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