IFC survey forecasts 9m will need digital skills in Ghana by 2030 … expected to generate US$4bn in training revenues

About nine million jobs would require digital skills in 2030 in Ghana which would translate to nearly 20 million training opportunities, a survey released by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has revealed.

What this implies is that the demand for digital skills is expected to grow at a faster rate than other markets both in Ghana and all around the African continent at large creating employability and opportunities for those with the requisite skills.

The opportunities include business-to-government and business-to-business which is estimated to require some 18 million people who have digital skills among their professional skills set by 2030 with almost US$3.5 billion in revenues expected to be generated from providing the requisite training whereas business-to-consumer opportunities are expected to be available to about 700,000 people by the same  year with about US$320 million in revenue expected to be generated from training them.

On the continent, the report finds that over 230 million job opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030 resulting in almost 650 million training opportunities. This will translate into an estimated US$130 billion in skills training revenues.

The demand for digital skills in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa is as a result of latent economic growth, digitisation and automation of its agriculture and manufacturing sectors as well as other services.

The report pointed to a significant gap which shows that the demand for digital skills is not currently being met by adequate supply in Ghana and the continent as a whole. For instance, nearly 20 percent of Ghanaian companies surveyed stated that they recruit expatriates for digital skills-oriented jobs, because they cannot find them in the country.

Around 80 percent of industry participants interviewed for the study underscored the effects of inadequate supply of digital skills, stating that it would hamper economic growth. The survey secured more than 150 responses of which 60 percent were from Sub-Sahara Africa with Ghana having half of them.

Launching the report – Digital Skills in Sub-Saharan Africa: Spotlight on Ghana in Accra last Wednesday, a Senior Education Specialist of IFC, Alejandro Caballero noted that the survey presents the need for players in the ecosystem to start developing measures and mechanisms to train the future workforce in digital skills to take advantage of the opportunities that abound.

Technology influence and automation mean that work in the future might look different from what it is today and thus, require a changing set of skills. To be proactive, the study recommended changes in the education system, stressing that African educational providers that do not offer digital skills should consider developing new courses offerings with diverse modes and durations to train the future workforce to be better equipped in that area.

Respondents of the survey estimated that about half of jobs on the continent already require some digital skills and that demand for those skills is expected to increase more quickly than in other regions of the world.

Currently, more than half of the global population have access to technology. This shift is reshaping the skills people will need to access the markets, run their own businesses and operate factories. To address this, the survey recommended that supply of digitally-skilled labour in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana must increase to meet anticipated market needs stressing that the private sector must play a pivotal role in addressing the challenges in securing an adequate supply of digital skills.

The demand for digital skills is evolving and this development presents greater opportunities for stakeholders, most especially the private sector to take advantage. This creates the need to carry out further studies to be abreast with the opportunities and in order to inform decision making.

The private sector arm of the World Bank Group – IFC – carried out the study in cooperation with global management firm -L.E.K. Consulting.

By Dundas Whigham