Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Labourers and Slaves of the 21st Century

Some of the myriads of problems that are facing the generations, especially in Africa and the rest of the developing world is unemployment. For example, the International Labour Organization reports that despite reported increase in economic, human development, and productivity there is no matching reduction in unemployment and poverty in Africa. While the estimated unemployment rate in the world is 6.3%, in Africa is at a high of 10.3% not to mention that some of the 'employed' in Africa are working poor (according to ILO persons working but still living on less than US$2 per person in the household, per day. This is what I would call modern day slavery).

Although the working poor and the unemployed would be more likely to be associated with the uneducated, the case in Africa seems to be different. The access to higher education, for example, is limited to less than 5% in Africa as compared to the global average of 16% . Paradoxically, Africa with its low enrollment rates suffers a very high unemployment rate of its graduates that seems to incline that the number of graduates are more than the markets demand. In as much as we might want to attribute this to the slumps or slow growths in our economies, I think there is still the issue of niche training, retraining, education and reeducation that is required in the 21st Century labour market.

The dynamics of the workplace (globalisation, speed of service, changing demographics etc) needs some tailored and quality training, both of new entrants and the incumbents. In this way, we are sure to ensure, sustainable economic developments and a increased demand for high quality labour.

Fortunately, the time is right for just-in-time and highly customised training using technology. eLearning provides a means for the training and education required for the 21st century workforce. Even if we still have issues with the access to the right technology, I believe with the little that we can access still we can make a difference. The sooner organizations and individuals started taking advantage of technology and innovations in the advancement of their knowledge, the better for the our continent, and for the world. My tip for organizations in Africa is to invest into their most important Capital, the human capital, by putting in place mechanisms of training and educating it (using technology) and also to liaise with other educational providers so that they can shape the educational content that is relevant to the urgent and immediate needs of the African continent. This way, I believe we would solve the problem of unemployment and slavery of working and still living on less than a dollar a day.

For this May day, I pay my tribute to:
  • all those who have and are still working to ensure education for all in Africa, and especially Higher Education.
  • all those who are fighting to training and educating the African continent in readiness for, and on how to overcome the challenges of the 21st century.
  • all those who are using eLearning in Africa!

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