Youth Have Critical Role to Play in Driving Africa’s Digital Economy

Data science emerging as next-generation career of choice for millennials

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – With the impending impact of machine learning and robotics on a range of traditional job roles and occupations, and Africa’s on-going digital skills shortage, the matter of skills development is again taking centre stage ahead of Youth Day.

Brett Parker, Managing Director: SAP Africa, said Africa’s youth have a great opportunity to shape and influence the digital economy across the continent. “With the digital skills shortage weighing heavily on the minds of African business leaders, it is critical that we jointly develop solutions to build the skills capacity that will drive Africa’s economy in the coming years. With so many traditional occupations set to be transformed by machine learning solutions, it is essential that we fast-track the development of key digital skills such as data science to ensure the workforce is equipped to deal with the challenges of the future.”

Experts estimate that machine learning and robotics will replace more than 70% of service technicians, and three-quarters of call centre agents in the coming years. Even traditional occupations such as those in law and accounting are not immune, with 94% of auditing and accounting roles set to be automated.

“Compounding the issue of youth skills development is the fact that universities and industry are both facing constantly changing workforce needs, often leading to a misalignment between the skills that are developed at university, and the skills required in industry. The SAP Next-Gen initiative aims to partly address this by bringing together universities, students, customers, and partners in an open collaboration to start exploring some of the key issues faced by industry, and developing the technical and critical thinking skills required to solve them.”

The recent launch of the Africa chapter of the Women in Data Science initiative aimed to inspire more women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM)-related fields, with a focus on data science as an emerging field that is already feeling the need for specialised skills. “As part of our commitment to contributing to skills development on the African continent, we have allocated five bursaries to women across Africa wishing to pursue careers in data science. With as much as 80% of all future jobs expected to be in STEM fields, it is essential that we invest now in the skills we will need to sustain Africa’s economic engine.”

To date, SAP Africa has provided job opportunities for a total of 400 consultants through the Skills For Africa initiative; trained over 4000 university students in 10 different African countries on Enterprise Systems Education for Africa (ESEFA) – teaching foundational enterprise systems; trained 516 000 youngsters in basic coding skills through the Africa Code Week (ACW) initiative, and exposed over 3000 learners to STEM skills through the SAP University Alliances Young Thinkers Program.

Parker said: “To solve Africa’s youth skills challenges, we believe it is critical to partner with customers, partners, universities, government, and schools to jointly find solutions that will empower a new generation of digital-first African talent. As we continue with our SAP Next-Gen and ESEFA initiatives and gearing up for what is set to be a landmark year for our broader Skills for Africa and Africa Code Week programs, we call on all our customers and partners to help us make a significant positive impact on ICT skills development across the continent.”


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For more information, press only:
Ansophie Strydom, SAP Africa, +27 (11) 235 6000, a.strydom@sap.com
Adam Hunter, SAP Africa, +27 (711) 787 035, adam.hunter@sap.co.za