Africa IT firms need to prepare for workforce of the future

Posted on October 28, 2012 03:41 pm

African continent is the future for growth for companies that want to expand their business and improve their revenues. However, the working environments will need to change if employers in African continent want to attract highly talented and skilled ICT industry expats. In more than six countries where I have contacts, I have found out that many employers are unable to retain ICT talents in their Organizations and most IT firms in sub Saharan Africa are grappling with that problem.In Zambia for example, an IT manager working with a multi national company showed me figures through an email how there is mismatch in demand and supply for such skilled employees. In southern African countries there is a high attrition rate among fresh graduates and in Eastern Africa countries like Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania many of the employers I have come across are too casual about bettering their staff through training.Statistics shows that the ICT industry in Africa will need more than 25,000 new talents to meet current demands for such skills in the continent.

Africa also need an IT savvy workforce and according to various reports by African union and regional organizations like EAC,SADC and ECOWAS, Africa will need an additional eight million workers by 2025.One thing that I have learned by being in various African countries is that there is a gap in the expectations of employees and employers alike. Most IT firms in employees support technologies and trends that promote a good work-life balance but unfortunately many employers in Africa are hesitant to comply and that trend is identical in both private and public organisations. Africa lacks enough of the new work-environments, where employees are allowed to bring their own devices although it is now gaining popularity in the continent. Working from home in Africa is also at its infancy stage and now most companies allow their staff to engage each other in social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter while at work or meetings.Also, many employers in Africa are disquiet with the mobile work life because they can’t be sure whether their workers are being productive.

IT vendors should look for solutions in setting up high-tech working environments despite the fact that employers are far behind in the adoption of these systems. Africa needs to be ready now for the workforce of the future where employers and employees consider improving their skills through programmes to hone their talents.The continent should also appreciate the fact that technology is advancing very fast. When I first started working 12 years go in Collins street, Melbourne everything I learnt in university was already less relevant and it is the same happen for the current graduates. To improve skills is important for employees to stay ahead and this will also help African employers be ready for the needs of the new workforce and move the continent forward into a knowledge based economy.

Contador Harrison