Adapting to new labour market skills needs

Given the global push toward digitized services, automated production methods, and the growing importance of technology in industrial processes, labour force needs are changing. Future labour markets will require a constantly evolving range of skills to meet the challenges of digitization and the fourth industrial revolution.

TVET is the most suitable type of education to deliver digital upskilling in the industrial, agricultural and service sectors. The transition to a global economy, however, means that the training systems in Africa must be able to adapt. IIEP-UNESCO Dakar has identified stakeholders and facilitators that can accompany these new dynamics.

Promote digital upskilling by bringing in new private training providers

The pressure of the pandemic on labour markets has accelerated the development of innovative practices on a small and medium-scale aimed at helping people update their skills. In Africa, there are several noteworthy initiatives that focus on digital skills in professional sectors where digital technology is still underdeveloped.

  • Agriculture:  DigiFarm learning content for farmers in Kenya


Launched in 2017 by a telephone operator, this Kenyan mobile application enables small farmers to access not just digital services (to source raw materials and monitor production) but also learning content. It is used by several hundred thousand farmers in Kenya, who can easily update, modernize and broaden their skills to improve their farming practices and financial management. This initiative helps them upskill and strengthen their market relevance. It features a special platform developed by the digital learning provider Arifu (among other partners).

  • Transportation: the company Max delivers digital upskilling for taxi drivers in Nigeria

The taxi and motorcycle taxi drivers working for the private transport company Max can access training courses on customer service (video) and digital literacy. This private sector solution enables them to acquire basic digital skills to improve their employability on the labour market.

  • Home repairs: Fundis is helping to upskill the repair people working in the informal sector in Kenya

Initiatives for developing online digital skills are also emerging in traditionally less tech-oriented sectors, such as home repairs. The mobile application Fundis, which puts plumbers, electricians and carpenters in contact with customers, enables these workers to improve their digital and soft skills through a special training programme. While they generally work in the informal sector, sometimes with no official certification, this initiative teaches them how to optimize the use of their smartphones for work and to identify new work opportunities.

These examples demonstrate the increasingly important role of the private sector in closing skills gaps. Since the official systems are perceived as slow to respond to change, businesses are seeking to develop parallel systems. These initiatives also show the importance of multi-stakeholder involvement in skills development projects.

TVET planners and managers need to build on the concept of these platforms to address digital skills shortages and develop training courses to promote reskilling.