An educational dialogue has called for measures to bridge the gap between knowledge acquired in school and skills required / applied in the job market.
It emerged that currently, there is a wide gap between the skills needed and what was taught in school in developing countries.
Therefore, it was important to create awareness among all relevant stakeholders on the need to bridge the knowledge and skills gap.
The virtual intergenerational dialogue on ‘Education and Skills for the Future,’ was organised by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET).
It brought together different generations of the youth, policymakers and industry players to discuss skill acquisition and employment; and seek their viewpoints on optimising young people’s potential to capitalise on the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).
A youth advocate from Ghana, Rachel Sackey, shared that not all of the courses taught in schools matched the skills needed in the job market because most of the subjects are taught without practical.
“As a result, some students drop out of school because they do not have interest in what is being taught,” she said.
From The Gambia, Aminata Jaide, of Girls Agenda, corroborated the situation was same in The Gambia where courses being taught did not match the realities.
She said it was more of ideologies, history, among others.
“Personally, I was not exposed to practical lessons. The system doesn’t prepare you adequately for the job market,” she said.
She said it was important for companies to offer internships and open days for students.
“Internships give students the possibility to gain practical experience and company open days can show students that pursuing a vocational or technical skill education is worthwhile for their future career.”
“These can bridge the gap between education and the labour market,” she said.
From Nigeria, Ogunsola Olufemi, of the Future Scholars Network, corroborated the necessity of learning new skills was undeniable as it enhanced individuals’ ability to work.
“Not only does it help in gathering new experiences but it also makes one confident. It also gives you access to new and different chances,” he said.
The discussion drew on a recent ACET research, including the African Transformation Report (2021) and MasterCard Foundation-funded six-country study that looked at improving education and learning systems to deliver a 4IR-ready workforce.
The Executive Vice-President of ACET, Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi, in her opening remarks said Africa did not seem ready for the 4IR.
“With a widespread lack of technical skills and core competencies needed to secure jobs in a rapidly changing job market, 4IR could widen the gap between Africa and the world or offer a pathway to transforming the continent,” she said.