HIGH-LEVEL EVENT ON IDDA III
Positioning Africa's Industrial Skills Development, Deployment and Retention: Accelerating Manufacturing
Mr. Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretary, ECA
22 September 2023
1:00 - 3:00 PM, Eastern Time
United Nations Headquarters
Ladies and Gentlemen
Accelerating Africa’s industrial skills development is pivotal for the continent’s growth and prosperity. However, Africa is seriously short of the Industrial Skills and professional capacity needed to achieve SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, which will be key for achieving both the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Addressing this challenge will require investing in education and technical and vocational training programs tailored to the needs of the industrial sector to harness the continent’s abundant natural resources and labour force more effectively.
This will serve to not only drive economic growth but to also promote innovation, job creation and global competitiveness.
Skills development does not happen in a vacuum.
While the skills shortage and the importance of prioritizing skills development in Africa is widely acknowledged, hard data on the topic is limited. This needs to be addressed starting with the undertaking of skills gap assessments at the macro and sectoral level.
Such information is of immense strategic importance for labour planning, as well as for the continent to be able to benefit from its demographic dividend.
Limited funding of Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) and Higher Education by African governments and Development Partners remains a challenge. Better consultations between governments, businesses and educational institutions can improve the outcomes of resource allocation to skills development.
We can build on existing initiatives and scale then up to trigger transformational change. An example of this is illustrated by a five-year collaboration agreement that ECA signed with the University of Johannesburg to develop an 18-month Master of Philosophy in Industrial Policy programme.
This programme aims to build human resource capacity in specialized industrial policy on the continent and to equip its students with the ability to support African governments in prioritizing and developing industrial policy in national development plans and long-term national visions.
Between 2016 and 2021, five cohort consisting of 46 students, of which 13 were women, from twenty African countries participated in this master’s degree, and given its success, the programme will be relaunched from 2024 to 2029.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
For the continent to create a comprehensive and adaptive skills pool, certain prerequisites, such as improved budget allocation for education and targeted technical training, as well as ensuring an enabling policy environment, need to be prioritized.
Capacity substitution through technical assistance and use of external contractors, service providers, and other forms of capacity acquisition allows industrial skills to be mobilized quickly for project start-ups.
But it is vital that African countries take steps to transfer essential skills that are critical for strategic sectors.
Strategies and practical measures should also be developed to safeguard and retain essential indigenous skills.
The prosperity of a country depends on a productive labour force, which in turn rests on the skills they have and the effectiveness with which they deploy them.
It is also recommended to integrate the rich talent, creativity, and entrepreneurship - demonstrated daily by the huge informal artisan class in most African countries - into the formal economy, and to provide mentorship, training, and technical assistance to enable those in the informal sector to contribute to the formal skills pool.
Lifelong learning for employable skills should be the guiding policy principle.
Thank you for your kind attention.