INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH - Mr. Albert Nsengiyumva
Mr Albert Nsengiyumva, Executive Secretary
Association for the Development of Education in Africa, African Development Bank
Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
We hear a lot about the skills gap between university graduates and the labour market. What would you say are the main contributing factors that lead to this disparity?
The demand of new skills in the labour market change much faster than the capacity of universities to quickly adapt its programmes to respond to the labour market demands. And this is particularly true with the digitalisation as part of the so-called 4IR. Some of the key contributing factors to these skills gap are:
- Limited capacity at the skills supply side to adapt to new demand
- Weak Public – Private Partnerships to inform and support the supply side in order to meet the demand in the labour market
- Resource constraints for universities to attract qualified professors and introduce new technologies to enhance hands-on training in order to respond to the labour market requirements
From your point of view, which academic fields, businesses or industries suffer the most because of this?
In the African context, I would say that the academic fields that are most suffering are:
- Agriculture (introduction of modern technologies in farming to increase productivity and quality of produces)
- Engineering and IT (lack of adequate equipment and competent professors as well as exposure to the industry environment)
- Construction and civil work
- New fields like oil and gas, mining…
What is an ePortfolio and how is it different from a CV or a graduate certificate?
An ePortfolio is an online platform (enabler) that facilitates to market the skills and competences of students/graduates in the labour market. It is indeed different from a CV or graduate certificate as it allows to provide more details including the possibility to interact with professors and to provide background information so that the potential employer can get confidence and more insight into the acquired skills and competences of the candidate. It also allows the university to review its programmes based on the feedback it receives from the ePortfolio.
How, in your opinion, does having an ePortfolio benefit a student and graduate?
It indeed gives the ability for a student and graduate to gain visibility in the labour market and to upgrade his/her skills based on the labour market demands.
Who stands to benefit from receiving access to an ePortfolio, i.e. how will this be useful to employers?
With access to an ePortfolio, the employers will have a single point of access when they need to hire new employees and also the opportunity to follow the study path of a potential future employee.
How has this idea been received by those who stand to benefit from it?
Very highly appreciated as long as employers and universities can be mobilised and sensitised to use it.
What do you think are the most crucial coming steps that need to be negotiated for a successful implementation of EPICA’s strategy, such as overcoming technological requirements, increasing the visibility of the initiative, improving funding, etc.?
In my view, the next crucial step is to pilot the ePortfolio in a few African countries that are well prepared to adopt it and then scale it up with a monitoring tool in place to assess its performance over time.