The Future of Jobs and Skills


The World Economic Forum (WEF) released ‘The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa” report on May 2nd, 2017 in an attempt to prepare sub-Saharan Africa for the disruption in jobs and skills brought by the fourth industrial revolution. This digital revolution brought by the widespread use of humanized technology like self-driving cars, thinking machines, and voice recognition systems is set to cause a shift towards ICT intensive jobs, and the loss of jobs vulnerable to automation. According to the report, Nigeria is in the least favourable position as it has limited exposure to the future of jobs, and a low capacity to adapt to the requirements of future jobs.

Untapped Human Capital

Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s youngest region with 60 percent of its population under 25 (WEF). In one of our infographics, we showed how Nigeria has a young population structure with over 50 percent of its population under 18. However, the country is not leveraging on its demographic opportunity to deliver an ecosystem for quality jobs and future skills. According to WEF Human Capital Index, Nigeria ranks 127th out of 130 world economies with only 44 percent of its human capital potential being maximized.

Africa’s Most Educated

Only 6 percent of Nigerian employers attribute inadequately skilled workforce as a major constraint. Although the country has not achieved universal basic education, it is the African country with the highest share of its population with tertiary education. Nevertheless, highly skilled workers are only about 3 percent of the employment share of total workforce, compared to the sub-Saharan African average of 6 percent and the world average of 24 percent. With regards to quality of education rating, behind 18 African countries, Nigeria has an index of 2.8 signifying a weak educational system.

Be Future Ready

The digital revolution comes with a more technologically driven labour market, increasingly employing professionals in the STEM fields, computer science, engineering, and data analysis. In Africa, increased investment in soft and hard infrastructure is set to create jobs. The pursuit for a greener environment will increase jobs in pollution control – clean energy generation, natural resource management, and energy efficiency. Online talent hunting platforms like Jobberman are expected to increase GDP by $20 billion in 2025 across Africa.

To adapt to the needs of the future, reliable and timely data on employment structure and required skills is crucial. Educators also need these data to understand labour market requirements. In classrooms, critical thinking, creativity, cognitive flexibility and emotional intelligence, should be taught as opposed to rote learning. Increased collaboration between educators and the business sector, and between businesses addressing the skills gap and the community around them is necessary to create and sustain an up-to-date, comprehensive ecosystem of quality jobs and future skills.

To develop Africa’s high-skill talent pool, WEF has come up with eight future ready strategies:

  • Increase access to early education
  • Improve on digital fluency and ICT skills
  • Improve on school curricula
  • Increase efficiency of workforce
  • Early access to work environment and career advice
  • Inclination to lifelong learning
  • Robust technical and vocational education and training
  • Openness to education innovation


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