24 Aug Skills mismatch under the spotlight at Yaoundé meeting
Africa is likely to miss out on the fourth industrial revolution if universities do not focus on entrepreneurship courses or transform their current education curricula so as to give graduates the right skills for the job market, according to education experts.
Experts at the annual board of governors’ meeting of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 19 -20 July said African universities should now shift their focus to three key issues in the industrial revolution: mobility, energy and telecommunications.
“Africa needs to create skills around these three issues and it is only at the university level that such skills can be created. Without these skills it will be difficult to keep pace with developed countries,” said Professor Roger Nanfosso, vice-chancellor of the University of Dschang in Cameroon.
“There has been an emphasis on giving incentives to create employment for the youth on the continent. Although this is important, the real issue universities need to address is youth entrepreneurship. Incentives will only address the problem partially and the cycle of youth unemployment goes on and on.”
The ACBF is the African Union’s specialised agency for capacity development. The theme of the meeting was “Youth employment in Africa: A focus on developing the critical skills”.
Erastus Mwencha, chair of the ACBF’s executive board, said the disconnect between tertiary education and labour market needs necessitates a sustained policy focus, particularly with regard to effective programmatic design and intervention.
An ACBF study in 2016, Capacity Requirements for the Implementation of the First 10 Years of the AU Agenda 2063, indicated that Africa had about 55,000 engineers of an estimated 4.3 million needed. Similarly, the continent only had about 80,000 agricultural scientists while needing an estimated 150,000 agriculturalists.
“What these figures show is that while Africa is investing in education, whether the scope and quality is sufficient to deal with the problem remains a vexing question,” said Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, ACBF executive secretary.
“The current education system in Africa has put more emphasis on certificates than the skills. This has to change to resolve the current youth unemployment.”