‘ICT, green economy skills future of labour markets’
LOCAL firms and the Government should prioritise reskilling of workers to meet future job needs while efforts should be directed towards boosting knowledge learning in areas such as information technology and the green economy, as these are expected to be the key drivers of the labour market in the short to long term, officials have said.
Speaking during the presentation of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future of Jobs 2023 report in Harare on yesterday, Mr Clemence Vusami, chief director in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare, representing the permanent secretary Mr Simon Masanga, said it had become more critical and urgent to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to respond to systemic shifts.
He also said institutions of higher learning should review their curricula and provide programmes that are relevant to the current and future needs of the labour markets.
The WEF report presentation was facilitated by the National Competitiveness Commission (NCC).
“We need to take advantage of the report to invest in human capital,” Mr Vusami said.
“It calls for urgent action among stakeholders to prepare for future job needs. Some of the professions that we have today are redundant and not relevant to the labour markets.
There is, therefore, a need to…reskill our people with skills that are required for the future.
“There is also the need to review the curriculum at our universities that will be in sync with our future job needs. In doing so we are able to stay afloat,” he added.
The WEF survey, released early last month captures the perspective of 803 companies – collectively employing more than 11,3 million workers – across 27 industry clusters and 45 economies from all world regions. It covers questions of macro-trends and technology trends, their impact on jobs, their impact on skills, and the workforce transformation strategies businesses plan to use, through 2023-2027.
Some local companies participated in the survey.
According to the survey, technology adoption will remain a key driver of business transformation in the next five years. Over 85 percent of organizations surveyed identify increased adoption of new and frontier technologies and broadening digital access as the trends most likely to drive transformation in their organization.
Broader application of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards within their organizations will also have a significant impact. The next most-impactful trends are macroeconomic; the rising cost of living and slow economic growth.
The impact of investments to drive the green transition was judged to be the sixth-most impactful macro trend, followed by supply shortages and consumer expectations around social and environmental issues.
Though still expected to drive the transformation of almost half of companies in the next five years, the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, increased geopolitical divisions and demographic dividends in developing and emerging economies were ranked lower as drivers.
The largest job creation and destruction effects come from environmental, technological and economic trends. Among the macrotrends listed, businesses predict the strongest net job-creation effect to be driven by investments that facilitate the green transition of businesses, the broader application of ESG standards and supply chains becoming more localised, albeit with job growth offset by partial job displacement in each case.
Climate change adaptation and the demographic dividend in developing and emerging economies also rate high as net job creators.
Technological advancement through increased adoption of new and frontier technologies and increased digital access are expected to drive job growth in more than half of surveyed companies, offset by expected job displacement in one-fifth of companies.
The three key drivers of expected net job destruction are slower economic growth, supply shortages and the rising cost of inputs, and the rising cost of living for consumers.
Employers also recognise that increased geopolitical divisions and the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will drive labour-market disruption – with an even split between employers who expect these trends to have a positive impact and employers who expect them to have a negative impact on jobs.
Within technology adoption, big data, cloud computing and AI feature highly on the likelihood of adoption.
More than 75 percent of companies are looking to adopt these technologies in the next five years. The data also shows the impact of the digitalisation of commerce and trade. Digital platforms and apps are the technologies most likely to be adopted by the organizations surveyed, with 86 percent of companies expecting to incorporate them into their operations in the next five years.
E-commerce and digital trade are expected to be adopted by 75 percent of businesses.
The second-ranked technology encompasses education and workforce technologies, with 81 percent of companies looking to adopt these technologies by 2027.
NCC chief economist Mr Douglas Muzimba said the transformation of jobs and skills has a significant impact on the competitiveness of local businesses and institutions.
“It is crucial to develop insight forecasts, identify the appropriate talent to promote growth, foster our standards of living, and make informed decisions on managing the significant disruptions to jobs and skills for employers and workers alike.
“This is crucial in the competitiveness momentum that is needed urgently to reach the Vision 2030 of Zimbabwean reaching upper middle-income country. We urge all stakeholders of our economy to fully support NCC to engineer an improved labour market environment, which is key in enhancing Zimbabwe’s competitiveness.
“NCC hopes that the dissemination (WEF) report will contribute to an ambitious multi-stakeholder agenda to better prepare workers, businesses, Government, educators and civil society for the disruptions to come, and empower them to navigate these social, environmental and technological transitions,” Mr Muzimba added.