According to the World Bank*, the rapid spread of digital technologies around the world is boosting economic growth and expanding opportunities. However, the benefits are not evenly distributed.
For high-skilled workers, technology complements their skills, increases their productivity and often leads to higher wages. Whereas for middle and low-skilled workers, benefits depend on the degree to which technology either complements or substitutes their work.
Given the predominance of the digital revolution, the Solutions for Youth Employment* (S4YE) coalition has prioritised 'Digital Age Impact’ as one of its focus areas for the coming years. S4YE aims to better understand how young workers can increase their participation in the digital economy, and how technology can help accelerate training and access to digital jobs.
Here are 5 ways to make that a reality:
1. Help young people make the most of online work platforms
While signing up to online work platforms is often simple, actually getting jobs is not as easy. Lack of skills to secure relationships or contracts, lack of good internet connectivity and lack of computer access are some of the reasons why.
In response, Digital Divide Data* and Samasource* train youth in digital skills such as transcribing and tagging audio and video files. They match youth to online work with clients worldwide and provide access to computer centres where young people can do the work.
2. Provide digital skills training to make young people employable across sectors
In recent years, many African countries have experienced fast growth. Digital jobs for African youth extend far beyond the business process outsourcing industry. Digital skills have become increasingly valuable across different functions.
For example, there is a high demand for digital skills in sectors such as retail, hospitality, tourism and financial services. Across functions, digital skills can make young entry-level candidates more competitive for sales, customer service, human resources, data management, and information technology positions.
3. Help young people gain skills that employers need
If employers provide input into curriculum design and data about what makes a high-performing employee for them, trainings can be customised to nurture the right skill sets and attributes.
For instance, Accenture’s Skills to Succeed Academy* focuses on partnering with employers who can commit to bulk job placement. Connections to employers and demand-oriented programme design resulted in job placement rates as high as 90% across the Digital Jobs Africa training programmes.
4. Provide soft skills training and workplace simulations
Designing programmes to include work place simulations and soft skills trainings are critical for employers.
Soft skills trainings enable young people to improve their communication, collaboration and resilience in professional settings.
Accenture’s Skills to Succeed Academy emphasises soft skills training by providing a safe, virtual environment for young people to prepare for workplace scenarios that they would encounter on the job. For example, it teaches young people how to manage their time once they have a job, and how to deal with conflict in the work place.
5. Apply new technology to increase effectiveness of job matching services
Online career and recruitment platforms can help improve job matching across sectors.
For example, the Fuzu portal in Kenya*, supported by Digital Jobs Africa and Accenture, applies psychometric testing to make it easier for young people to find work that matches their interests. The technology also helps youth identify gaps in their skills in relation to jobs they are interested in and offers them the opportunity to gain those skills through self-learning modules. In addition, employers benefit from recruitment technology solutions such as automated analysis of resumes.
S4YE* is a coalition of public, private, and civil society organisations that aims to increase the number of young people in productive work. Plan International is among the founding partners alongside organisations such as the World Bank, Accenture and Youth Business International. Several other partners have joined the coalition since the launch such as the MasterCard Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and Microsoft.
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