Africa’s Technological Challenges Are Growth Opportunities
By plugging the skills gap in key areas of industry; through empowerment of Africa’s population with technologically in-demand skills, a spur in growth of its economies are most certainly guaranteed. Year in year out, the continents’ numerous universities churn out graduates into a marginal ecosystem, a mixture of low job openings and vast skills gaps; many students lacking basic soft skills required for the increasingly technologically advancing job market. With the youngest population in the world, compounded by a projected population explosion on the continent from 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion by 2050 <1>, Africa has unmined talent and a significant demographic opportunity. Over 60% of its population currently under 25 year of age, the continent will be home to more than a quarter of the world’s under-25 population, Africa’s youth may well be its most competitive edge. This demographic presents a favourable opportunity if managed appropriately. Despite the perceived threat to labour-intensive work, the emergence of technology offers innovative solutions to developmental challenges in areas such as power, banking, health and farming <2>. The shortages of skills in these key areas of industry, provides an avenue to tackle economic underdevelopment by making skills validation paramount and visible via a scalable ePortfolio ecosystem developed by MyDocumenta, to improve the quality and availability of new skills.
It is with such insights that make EPICA’s market-centred approach a significant resource. This scalable platform will ensure that end-users are involved in the entire process and that the ePortfolio meets their pedagogical, technological and social requirements. For universities and colleges, its aim is to improve teaching methods in response to demand for highly skilled professionals. Students and workers are at an advantage by obtaining visible transferable skills, using it as an outreach that helps potential employers gain deeper insights into their capabilities and work in a way that they can fully control. The offer to employers and businesses is a platform for first picks of most suitable candidates for jobs by viewing candidates’ professional developments. The cross benefit of the ePortfolio is an axis which is mutually beneficial for all stakeholders.
A Dynamic Vehicle for in-demand Skills
For all areas of development, aside the skills and knowledge, sustainability is fundamental in making projects scalable for the future. The new strategic partnership between Europe and Africa to address this challenge is highly laudable via the consortium of businesses, organisation and universities. By 2016, Africa’s start-up sphere raised over $350 million <3>, a clear case of how technology is spurring growth on the continent. Although impressive, this dwarfs the strides made in other regions such as the South Americas and Far East. By improving access to quality education and in plugging the technological skills gap via skills-based training, mobilisation of the job force for key industries can be attained in a short period of time. Increasing digitisation and automation calls for a dynamic type of labour and to ensure there is more than sufficient skilled labour, alternative training models and education are needed to be adapted to address demand-led skills. Effectively, for Africa’s youth to be globally competitive, practical and transferable skills such as successful decision-making, critical thinking and various skills directly aligned to employer demand <4>, are the vehicles necessary to take advantage of the growth opportunities.
Harnessing Evidence-based approach to Address Skills Gap by Making Learning Visible
ePortfolios are powerful, creative and readily accessible platforms which are increasingly used as global learning tools in both secondary and higher education by making learning visible. They offer a diverse process for evidence based assessment over a period of time of an individuals’ growth. With the scope of evaluating and assessing the skills gap in the African market, this tool is highly effective in providing insight into the capabilities of individuals and a feedback mechanism that allows projects to be tailored to target any shortfalls – EPICA’s platform, through collaboration will streamline the process to make learning intuitive and engaging in equipping students with the necessary skills.
More meaningful connections through hands-on training incentivise trainees and for students, the collection of works represents a comprehensive digital archive of milestones which paints a picture of personal growth, professional development, achievements and continuity that remains a reference as skills validation. The import of validating skills is a confirmation that students have the required knowledge and skills to progress either in higher modules or into the job market. Validation allows educators determine students’ understanding of topics, providing technical assistance in programme implementation. In measuring students’ knowledge, attitudes and skills over-time, competency related topics are designed to target individual module deficiencies <5>. In retrospect, all stakeholders will be vital in ensuring the success and goals of delivering in-demand skills to prepare and ensure Africa’s current generation are equally competitive and on par with the rest of the world.