Africa should speed up actions to foster job-relevant digital skills for the youth

Africa YouthAfrican governments need to invest in digital skills to unlock youth’s potential and access to new jobs. (Image source: IICD/Flickr)The African Forum on Youth Skills and Enterprises in the Digital Age in April has made a major recommendation to ensure that Africa’s youth have the relevant, appropriate digital skills from a very early age as they prepare for the jobs of the future

During the event, African governments and major stakeholders agreed to:

· Foster and implement appropriate policies to integrate digital skills, 21st Century skills and science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the African education and training systems.

· Establish technological partnerships to fill the skills gap in jobs requiring advanced ICT competencies such as coding, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics and cybersecurity, among others.

· Accelerate the use of ICT to offer all learners, especially girls and women, equal opportunity access to quality education.

· Spread the culture for eLearning.

· Promote technical and vocational education and training as an enabling pathway rather than as a sub-sector of last resort.

· Train teachers on digital skills and 21st century skills.

Organised by the government of Tunisia through its Ministry of Professional Training and Employment, the African Union, the Global E-Schools and Communities Initiative, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa and the United Nations’ Children Fund, strategic partners including JP.IK and the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the forum was sponsored by ACT and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Nicholas Ouma, from the African Union’s Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology, stressed the importance for children to acquire ICT skills at an early age to gain advantages in thinking processing and communicating. Helping Africa’s youth be innovative will translate into critical dividends in nearly any profession, he explained.

On the way forward, Jerome Morrissey, CEO of the Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative, recommended planning for and investing in digital inclusion in all its dimensions to better address the skills gap and foster inclusive growth in Africa.

Speakers in each session emphasised the role of digital skills as the new core link between education and employment.

Odibeli Pamela Ejiro, Youth Ambassador for the Secondary Education in Africa Initiative, called on African governments to invest in digital skills to unlock youth’s potential and access to new jobs, which will further contribute to Africa’s development.

Faouzi Abderrahmane, minister of vocational training and employment of Tunisia, reminded all African dignitaries and development cooperation actors to free the rural community from digital illiteracy. “Innovation and creativity are linked to ICT. Africa can succeed and be a pioneer of this digital age especially through the facilitation of intra-African partnerships and collaborations.”

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