Educating employees will boost Africa’s future

Posted on December 24, 2014 02:34 pm

In African countries, many factors determine a country’s competitive edge: infrastructure, natural resources, quality of institutions and human resources.African countries have been pushing hard to improve infrastructure and upgrade their public institutions. The continent is rich in natural resources but sadly it is very poor at improving the quality of human resources.Unless stockholders works with the private sector to remedy this situation speedily, the continent will continue to fall behind other parts of the world.Matching hard infrastructure with soft infrastructure to be competitive is the only solution. Productive and competent workers are the drivers of economic growth. Without highly skilled labor, African countries will not have the capacity to rise up the economic ladder. And to achieve a productive workforce, the education system must be up to scratch. According to a recent study, about 60 percent of Africa’s total workforce have not completed senior high school, which the organization blames for the low productivity and competitiveness of the continent’s workers.There is no way the continent can measure economic development just by gross domestic product or per capita income.Improving workers’ quality of life will raise productivity and in turn boost economic growth. But to get to this level, the education system must be in sync with the needs of business. It is no good churning out graduates if they cannot keep pace with changes in the real world.

Few months back, I has a lengthy conversation with a friend who lives in Frankfurt Germany specializing in human resource training and he was assertive that workforce productivity can be a common problem for many companies, particularly when employees become unhappy, disengaged or eager to switch jobs.If the government is looking at ways to optimize productivity in the workplace, various strategies should provide a useful starting point.Plenty of studies he’s been involved in over the years have shown that happy, motivated people are more productive, while stressed and overworked employees are often prone to absenteeism and depression.In his own advise, companies could take more responsibility for educating employees about the benefits of better sleep, physical activity, good nutrition and a work-life balance in order to keep employees healthy, happy and productive.Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, with cloud computing, mobility and big data solutions all providing innovative ways to boost workplace productivity. Leading organizations are capitalizing on technology advances to pioneer a whole new innovation paradigm based on the ways they measure, experiment with, share and replicate information.Effective leaders are important for inspiring employees, managing conflict and communicating business strategies to the workforce.However,African businesses hoping to improve productivity may want to concentrate on leadership development programs that strengthen tomorrow’s leaders in areas where they show less promise.Emerging leaders in countries like Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa, while they tend to be extroverted, aren’t necessarily interested in socializing with their colleagues and they’re much more focused on driving results and are comfortable working independently, according to a corporate study published mid this year.Enterprises that harness these skills and talent effectively can provide significant productivity gains now and in the future. Not only this, they can begin building a new leadership pipeline that will be more adept at performing in an increasingly globalized business environment.

Given the fast pace and competitive nature of many industries, organizations need comprehensive change management processes, the latest technology and talented leaders to optimize workforce performance.Building these capabilities takes time, effort and resources, but companies that take the necessary steps to prepare now will be much better placed to benefit from future opportunities.African countries have a large labor pool but it is woefully short in skilled management. This shortage will be expounded as the countries continues to grow and move from an agrarian to an industrialized region. Unless companies and businesses can find and recruit suitably skilled managers, they will not be able to expand and grow.While there are no quick solutions in filling this talent gap, two issues need to be addressed: education in Africa, but also the accessibility of jobs to Africans across the 52 countries.This means that unless governments revamps their basic education system as well as the institutions of higher learning, businesses will not be able to fill the talent gap.This is an enormously important issue and unless it is addressed immediately, the future of estimated 1.1 billion people will be doomed.

Contador Harrison