The coronavirus pandemic has had severe socioeconomic consequences in Africa including increased unemployment and loss of income. It has, however, also demonstrated the increasing importance of digital technology in responding effectively to crises and planning for recovery, not the least of which is in the fields of education and vocational skills.
As part of this recovery, new learning formats have the potential to accelerate the continent’s digital transformation, and to create sustainable and resilient digital jobs in Africa. In the vanguard of this move to leverage digital technology on behalf of Africa’s job seekers is atingi, the free, digital learning platform conceptualised and developed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Prof. Dominic Orr, a team leader at atingi, says, “Young people are the backbone of Africa’s human capital future and a key driver of continental development. The success of each country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the sustainability of their social and economic recovery, and the achievement of that country’s long-term development goals will depend on the labour, insights and expertise of skilled and healthy young people. This is where we believe atingi can make a tangible contribution.”
#FutureYou Awareness campaign
Now, more than ever, it is crucial to invest in youth employment and digital skills development in order to accelerate and optimise Africa’s digital transformation. The team behind atingi believes that their learning platform will help African people future-proof their careers and has recently launched a new awareness campaign called “#FutureYou” in support of this.
The #FutureYou initiative specifically addresses how atingi users are unlocking the potential of their future careers through the platform’s courses and accreditations. It deploys the mediums of digital and traditional media communications, disseminating several motivational and educational campaign streams that address core elements of the #FutureYou promise including #FutureProof, #FutureCareer and #FutureLeaders.
atingi, which means “to achieve” in Esperanto, aims to improve the employability of young people through modern digital learning opportunities. BMZ, together with a large network of strategic cooperation partners – from politics and business to science and civil society – localises educational content to suit the needs of African audiences and makes it available, free of charge, via the atingi platform. This ensures that the learning materials are easy to use and aimed at capacitating African jobseekers for the professions of the future in their home countries.
2021 employment insights for Africa
In 2020, McKinsey projected that up to 400 million people in Africa would face reduced incomes or complete loss of work opportunities due to Covid-19. With the expectation currently that this pandemic will see a third and fourth wave impact in countries globally, it remains unclear how many more African people will be facing the prospect of joblessness in 2021.
According to a World Bank survey earlier this year, many people in Africa have simply stopped working due to COVID-19. In fact, their research reports that by June 2020, in Nigeria 45% had stopped completely, with 17% in Uganda, 8% in Ethiopia, and 6% in Malawi. Unsurprisingly, it also notes that urban informal jobs, which make up about 80% of workers in Africa, have been hit hardest – and that urban jobs were lost in higher proportion than in rural areas. And, in terms of challenges to workplace gender parity, the World Bank notes that more women lost their job due to Covid-19 than men, thereby deepening the already wide gender gap in employment.
“A time of uncertainty calls for people to be courageous and to re-think their future. Our #FutureYou campaign aims to encourage young adults to actively choose and chart their own course. We aim to give African youths insights into the emerging opportunities in new job fields for their #FutureCareer. At the same time, we will also direct them to relevant user reviews and recommendations, as well as free courses that upskill and prepare them to take advantage of Africa’s evolving world of work,” concludes Dominic Orr.