A Tech Approach to Combatting Unemployment | #education | #technology | #training

Interesting to know that 69 percent of employers are having difficulty filling jobs globally, and as technology disruptions continue to be on the increase, employers are looking for the right combination of technical skills and human relation strengths.

Moreover, it is worrisome that the level of mismatch in the global job demand and supply space leaves so much gap yet to be filled as the education systems across the world have grown at much slower pace compared with technology.

However, high demand skills must be propelled on the wheels of technology to ensure that the skill-demand gap continues to get filled. Also, platforms need to be developed for easy information and resources access with drivers making use of a public private partnership arrangements, and doing amazing recruitment for the global space. Such platforms must ensure the centrality of information banks and an easy integration with update channels. How can technology reduce the employment numbers, improve the education system that prepare skilled workforce, and power the seamless handshake between global skills demand and local supply?

Education systems are founded on seven (7) philosophies, which include essentialism (a set of attributes necessary to their identity), perennialism (values knowledge that transcends time), progressivism (addresses ideas, and issues stemming from modernization), social reconstructionism (quest to create a better society and worldwide democracy), existentialism (emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice), behaviorism (all behaviors are acquired through conditioning, which occurs through interaction with the environment), constructivism (learners construct knowledge), conservatism (commitment to traditional values and ideas), and humanism (to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good). All the afore can be richly enhanced through tech tools and platforms that fosters connectedness for ease of sharing and the nourishment it offers the society and globe.

Furthermore, the demand for tech-related skills is changing rapidly as a result of increased globalization and rapid technological change. However, the need for accurate information on existing skill gaps, and for well planned information on how the labour market, and the demand for skills might change remains critical. Employers need to plan for their immediate and future workforces; young people and workers need to know which skills offer the best job prospects; education providers and trainers need to adapt their curricula while ensuring they remain relevant; and policymakers need to ensure they institute the necessary changes in the education systems, labour markets and migration policy in a timely way.

The aforesaid puts a demand on more entrepreneurs, to expand their vision and horizon, while thinking of how technology powers the educational system to prepare people for new skill gaps (that continued tech disruptions, the covid19 pandemic and globalization has created). The fact that as much as 69 percent of employers are having difficulty filling jobs, require a rethink of how we approach unemployment globally. There will be more tech influence on everything and the world of work from home has come to stay. This implies that entrepreneurs across the world, Nigerians inclusive, need to build systems that effectively host platforms that can engage to solve this gross-mismatch puzzle.

Moreover, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in one of its publication, titled – preventing unemployment and underemployment from becoming structural, we see that across all G20 countries, technological change and globalization have affected profoundly work organization practices and skill demands of employers. The demand for more skilled workers has surpassed that for low-skilled workers with the share of total employment in managerial, technical and professional jobs increasing significantly. These changes are likely to intensify in the face of on-going process of innovation and diffusion of the information and communication technology and could result in further displacement of jobs that involve routine tasks (manual or cognitive). Not all of these changes are fully predictable in terms of their impact on labour demand, but what is clear is that good information is required on changing skill needs in order to guide the provision of and participation in, education and training.

Some tech-positive approaches that can reduce unemployment numbers include:

Strategic investment in tech infrastructure: This is very foundational to the sustenance of almost all aspects of the labour equation, because humans are at the center of both the demand and supply side, and what could connect people better than technology platforms? Looking at Nigeria as a case study, each of the 774 local governments need to be furnished with good internet connection, computers and/or tablets, and other tech-related support system. Gleaning from late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s wisdom, and how he was able to crowdfund and crowdsource materials and teachers for community primary schools; non-profit organizations can aggregate community donations across their domains of operation to provide support through a tech portal that fosters the process of hiring, crowdfunding and assuring a continuous improvement structure that nurtures each local government. These tools can be utilized to train and retrain young people on relevant in-demand digital skills.

Driving education with technology: This is no longer news with Udemy, Coursera, AfriLearn, Educlaim and several others doing amazing work. What is of importance at this time is for same structures to be used by public schools. Education has become wall-less today and so much can be learnt on a computer connected to internet with a course subscription. We need not reinvent the wheel, rather to extend what works towards the training and retraining of our workforce. Courses should be subscribed to on the different learning platforms (by companies and local governments), and certain timesharing designated to students co-learning through such platforms, say Wednesdays and Fridays. Augmenting the 6-3-3-4,5,6 system this way will better prepare a tech-skilled workforce for the digital future of work (from home, which is the new definition of work across the world). Humans should be positioned for work across the global space – it is a digital village with everything connected to everything else.

The use of mobile devices, and apps technology: Addressing unemployment with apps that run on mobile phones can create a whole new set of opportunities for people. Existing apps like Mint, Google Fit, Headspace, Duolingo, and Amazon can help to position people to help others manage their expenses, become physically fit, destress and think more clearly, learn a new language and become an affiliate or reseller of products respectively. Additionally, the search for jobs can happen through the use of apps such as LinkedIn, Snagajob, JobAware, Remotely, Indeed and ZipRecruiter. Unemployed individuals could create ATS friendly resumes for such opportunities tailored to each specific job requirement. Some emerging or new occupations inclusive of digital marketing, ride hailing services (Uber/Bolt etc), cyber security (with growth of the global FinTech), artificial intelligence (with machine learning), UI/UX design, and mobile apps development.

Furthermore, connected thinking made possible through creative collaborations could also go a long way at combating the unemployment menace. Non profit organizations like GIZ and UNDP are doing amazing work with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund to reach the teeming youth population with relevant hands-on-the-job skills that can lead to sustainable living for the beneficiaries. We see here the public, and private sector (for-profit and NGO) at work to tackle the multi-faced challenge. Such teamwork should dovetail into a good Labour Market Information System (LMIS), which can improve the matching process of labour demand and supply (leading to cross border global handshakes).

Another area that is pertinent to better future job match is early investment in career education guidance and counseling. So many people have to do major changes in their career in the future while several others never really recover from the required shift because they are not doing what they are really cut-out for (love doing, can be improved on, there’s a need for, and someone willing to pay for same). We need to put our money and time where our mouth is by engaging with people from a young age to harness the power of focus (just like focused light, laser cuts through iron) that improves professionalism.

To conclude this piece, it is pertinent to note that one of the philosophies on which universities are built is that, everyone brings in knowledge and no one really takes it away. This implies that the tertiary education system thrives on a contribution paradigm. We can draw from such premise to position the LMIS for continuous improvement (via APIs from different feeder inputs – government agencies, non-profits, local and foreign organizations human resources), while each training organization can begin with the end (in-demand job) in mind. Also, from the sage which says that every excess must be wasted, we should consciously harness resources from denser areas and re-channel same to less dense or completely unavailable ones through tech pathways to reduce wastes. This could start through a commitment to equal opportunities for everyone like it is with the American dream (where life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement, and very few barriers). I thank you for your investment in time, and remain very open to engagements around sustainable implementation strategies, yours in tech, Olufemi Ariyo.

Email: [email protected]

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