Globalisation 4.0 is upon. This is the proclamation being made this week in Davos. It is now common knowledge that upskilling and reskilling the present workforce whilst preparing the younger generation for the world of work of the future is paramount.
Governments, non-profit organisations, for-profit corporations and individuals are scratching their heads as how they can contribute to the much-needed digital skills revolution. Everyone has a part to play, especially in Africa, in preparing the youth for meaningful lives in the new and technology-infused economy. How can one contribute to the upliftment of youths through digital skills?
It is a no-brainer that we need to foster decent and inclusive employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for the youth in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Training in- and out-of-school youth with basic and advanced digital skills promises to connect young people with unprecedented job opportunities in the digital economy, leading to innovation, higher productivity and competitiveness, expanding markets, access to work and entrepreneurship opportunities. The digital skills needed to succeed in the digital economy include:
- Advanced digital skills: related to technology development such as coding, software and app development, network management, machine learning, big data analysis, IoT, cybersecurity or blockchain technology;
- Basic digital skills: related to the effective use of technology, necessary in most professions. They include web research, online communication, use of professional online platforms and digital financial services;
- Soft skills: skills necessary to all professionals to ensure collaborative and effective work in the digital economy. They include leadership, communication and teamwork skills, client-orientation, among others.
- Digital entrepreneurship: digital skills required by entrepreneurs, including online market research, strategic planning and business analysis, using financing and crowdfunding platforms, online marketing, and online networking and establishing mentoring relationships
Ministers of ICT, Labour and Education, national governments, the private sector, training providers, Academia, NGOs, other members of the UN family as well as other interested parties are actively encouraged to participate. As individuals or organizations we can set our goals to:
- Bring digital skills training to as many young people around the world as possible to equip them with job-ready, transferable digital skills;
- Encourage the creation of new job opportunities in order to integrate more young women and men in the labour market and help digital economies flourish;
- Promote an enabling environment where youth can seize the employment and entrepreneurship opportunities offered by the growing digital economy.
These goals can be achieved by:
- Organizing digital skills development programmes for youth (e.g. coding boot camps or mobile apps development training);
- Run special basic or advanced digital skills development programmes for young women;
- Train young entrepreneurs on how to use ICTs to grow their businesses and learn the business, technical and soft skills they need as digital entrepreneurs;
- Include digital skills training in apprenticeships and educational and professional development programmes across sectors;
- Train education providers how to adapt school curricula and incentivize professional development, entrepreneurship activities, on-the-job learning and job insertion of youth; and
- Provide financial support to existing digital skills development programmes or the creation of new ones.