Learnability Critical To Developing Future-Ready Workforce In Africa 

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Yemisi Izuora 

The contracting shelf-life of skills requires African businesses to focus more on strategies that would enhance employees’ ability to adapt to unfolding global workplace realities, Ivie Imasogie-Adigun, Group Head, Human Resources, Sahara Group has said.

Imasogie-Adigun told Human Capital Professionals at a session on “Strategies to Ensure Workforce Learnability” that public and private organisations in Africa need to respond to growing digital disruptions by creating a process that identifies a candidate’s learning agility right from the hiring process as “a person’s learnability quotient is a great predictor of future success in the work place.” She went further to define ‘Learnability’ as an individual’s ability to acquire new skills efficiently, in the shortest time possible.

According to her, the impact of globalisation makes it imperative for employees to vigorously and deliberately pursue self-directed development initiatives that equip them with new skills  beyond their current core areas of expertise. “Today, new skills have emerged that are quite different from what was needed about 5 years ago. LinkedIn’s talent research shows that half of today’s most in-demand skills weren’t even on the list a few years ago.  As such, it is imperative that there is a drive towards constant upskilling for continued relevance.”

Experts have suggested that by 2030, the Africa continent’s working-age population will increase by two-thirds, from 370 million adults in 2010 to over 600 million . Of this population at least 52 % will receive up to a  secondary education; a 16%  increase compared to the existing percentage in 2010  of 36% of the population. Imasogie-Adigun noted that this trend should elicit a firm and strategic response from stakeholders across the continent to improve global competitiveness. “As 15 to 20 million increasingly well-educated young people are expected to join the African workforce every year for the next three decades, delivering the ecosystem for quality jobs – and future skills to match – will be imperative to fully leveraging the continent’s demographic dividend,” she explained, urging policy makers, the academia and human capital practitioners to lead the charge of promoting “employability as the impact of the fourth industrial revolution hovers over Africa.”

Sharing the Sahara Group experience, she said businesses can enhance the capacity and adaptability of their people by hiring for learnability, making learning a key talent strategy, investing in new technologies, rewarding personal development achievements and creating a sustainable knowledge exchange framework that can be updated periodically.

“At Sahara Group where our business traverses the entire energy value chain, learnability is one of our critical employee selection criteria as it  speaks to spontaneity and novelty. Employees must be supported to learn either via learning hubs or e-learning platforms to promote knowledge acquisition across all levels in the organization. It is also imperative for organisations to encourage the creation of an informal social platform where knowledge flows freely and can be accessed seamlessly,” she concluded.


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