Professionals from diverse fields including technology, human resources, management, and entrepreneurship have tasked Africa’s youth to take advantage of the unique opportunities around them to hone their skills if they hope to compete favourably in today’s marketplace.
This was the consensus expressed during the Mastercard Foundation, Young Africa Connect series.
The virtual session, titled “Employable; Securing & Thriving in Work” which was held on Thursday, May 6, sought to inspire, engage, and uplift young people while amplifying the incredible work they are doing across the continent.
The event also afforded young people the platform to discuss issues and topics relevant to them, and receive the information and resources they needed as they strive to build dignified lives for themselves and their families.
Speaking at the virtual roundtable, Ekundayo Odele, a human resource specialist stressed the need for youth to discover themselves and be open to learning at all times,
Odele explained the need to find joy in our work as a successful work-life balance depends on an amalgam of both.
“The evolving workplace of the future cannot continue to ignore the realities and importance of parenting and family and the impact of these on individual lives, thus the workplace of the future will provide more leverage for women and downplay the biases with which she is stereotyped in the workplace,” she added.
Elizabeth Kitange, Learning Designer, ALX Africa also revealed that today’s youth have unlimited opportunities they can latch on to succeed especially with the advent of digital.
“Today’s young professional competes on a global scale. We find ourselves competing with professionals from the US, UK, and other developed countries.”
Also speaking at the session, Nadege Gaju, a project management expert noted that the place of skills in today’s marketplace was critical adding that youth must seize the opportunity to learn in order to compete favourably.
Speaking on ‘failing forward and how significant life lessons can be learnt from failure’, she stressed that attributes such as problem-solving and networking skills are key ingredients the youth must imbibe to set them apart and make them attractive to employers not only within their domain but globally.
Commenting on the themes of creating viable visibility in today’s workplace, Kwabena Adu-Darkwa – a tech entrepreneur and systems analyst opines that every professional should have a portfolio.
He said that every employer wants to know your skill set and what you have done with those skills.
“You need to sell yourself via platforms like LinkedIn which will make you visible to recruiters and industry mavens. Employing strategies like storytelling will get you more visibility and resonance, having good interpersonal and people skills will also help you go a long way in your professional journey.”
Michael Lubawa, a digital marketing professional views ‘volunteering’ as a viable way to build a network and become more skill proficient. According to him, young people should be more proactive, they should be more curious, creative, and innovative and should have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He opines that there are many courses for free online
The panellists agreed that young professionals in Africa can leverage the opportunities in the evolving workplace by getting relevant skills like coding, time management, and soft skills as these cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence technologies now or in the future.
It was also agreed that they should sell themselves strategically to a global audience leveraging social and digital media.