EY’s recently released Sub-Saharan Africa talent trends and practices survey (pdf, 3.7mb) finds that many companies lack the capacity to plan for and manage the development of skills. One of the biggest challenges for companies operating in Africa is to ensure that they have the skills necessary to support their growth ambitions.
Developing and delivering technical and vocational skills, workforce planning, and career management and development are activities rated lowest by 224 participants in respect of their capacity to perform and deliver in the survey which spanned 23 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Many of the companies surveyed believe they are adequately equipped to recruit skills. But David Storey, EY’s EMEIA People and Change Leader, believes that it would be short-sighted to rely solely on recruitment as a means to source skills in light of the skills gap in Africa. “The existing pool of skills in Sub-Saharan Africa isn’t large enough to meet demand”, says Mr Storey. “Companies will have to invest in developing the skills that are needed to fuel their growth expectations. Moreover, given the levels of secondary and tertiary enrolment rates in Africa, such investment may need to be more substantial and over a longer time period than would have been undertaken in developed economies, and may require companies to work in partnership with public sector institutions to deliver such interventions.”
In addition Mr Storey says that companies working in Sub-Saharan Africa need to do two things. “Firstly have a medium and long term understanding of and plan for the skills that are required to meet growth expectations.” The survey results indicate that over 50% of participants have a planning horizon of 6 to 12 months, with an additional 20% reacting as vacancies arise. “Secondly companies should recruit for potential which should then be supported by investment in programmes to develop skills. A holistic approach to skills acquisition and development is ultimately what is required,” he says.
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Following on from EY’s successful integration in 2008 of 87 countries into one area from across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), the firm has launched its Africa Business Center™ (ABC), which aims to enhance the effective and efficient links between its geographic reach and areas of expertise. The firm enjoys representation in 33 countries across Africa.