The Future of Work in Africa

A couple of years ago, I got asked to talk at TEDxStellenbosch, and called it Courage, Coffee & Africa. At that time, I had plenty of ideas about where to nudge and edge ‘Unravelling Exploration’ in a forward-thinking direction, and executed on most of them, and up until then, nobody has ever asked me to explain my work in 14 minutes. It was a good exercise, and the talk was based on my findings of many years’ worth of vocational expeditions, career coaching and exploration.

I created vocational expeditions as a way to understand and connect with our vocations, and to get us out of the familiar and into the unknown. We so often forget the value of breaking old habits and creating life-promoting new habits to sustain the life we want.

I just finished a fairly intensive coaching course at the University of Cape Town’s Business School, at the Centre for Coaching. Coaching is not another name for therapy – it is exclusively focused on the future and how to enable individuals to identify, prioritize, creatively problem-solve and implement choices around achieving their vocations.

I am fascinated by group dynamics and have been trained as a facilitator by Helene Smit, who started the Depth Leadership Trust. This comes as a great tool to use whilst presenting workshops or managing ‘edges’ in the heart of the Caprivi or Botswana, whilst on an expedition.

Afrofuturism: The genre that made Marvel’s Black Panther.

While Black Panther breaks new ground in Hollywood, the film itself owes its vision to afrofuturism, a 20th-century cultural aesthetic that subverted sci-fi- a white-dominated genre – by placing black people front and centre in futuristic worlds.

“The one characteristic of the Wakandan people as far as costumes go is Afrofuturist,” Ruth E. Carter, costume designer for Black Panther, told CNN.

I have spent weeks, months, and many years traveling through Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana & Namibia, visiting various communities, farms, friends and family. On most of these expeditions, I was accompanied by university students or high school learners. If I had learned anything, it’s the importance of going north of our border with an open mind, your feet on the ground, loaded with empathy instead of knowledge, a willingness to become present and the eagerness to learn new ways to innovate and the necessity of living your vocation step by step.

The World Economic Forum’s Human Capital Index finds that Sub-Saharan Africa currently only captures 55% of its human capital potential, compared to a global average of 65%. With more than 60% of its population under the age of 25, Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s youngest region. By 2030, the continent’s working-age population is set to increase by two-thirds, from 370 million adults in 2010 to over 600 million in 2030.

Currently trending professions on the continent include the creative industries, food technologists, 3D designers, data centre workers as well as care, education and health workers. In the longer term, there is strong job growth potential in hard and soft infrastructure as well as green jobs.

An estimated 15 to 20 million increasingly well-educated young people are expected to join the African workforce every year for the next three decades. In more economically advanced world regions, concerns have recently been raised regarding the potential impact of automation on jobs on the continent. It has been estimated that, from a technological standpoint, 41% of all work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation, as are 44% in Ethiopia, 46% in Nigeria, 48% in Mauritius, 52% in Kenya and 53% in Angola. However, these effects are likely to be moderated by comparatively lower wages and slower technology adoption. But listen to this, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs analysis found that in South Africa alone 39% of core skills required across all occupations will be different by 2020 as compared to what was needed to perform those roles in 2015.

Living in nonlinear times, trust your vocation.

While linear change is smooth and relatively predictable, non-linear change confounds our expectations with shifts that can be very fast, even abrupt. And in 2018, we were surrounded by it.

This is why, for me, the future of work is here, in Africa. If you want to understand the effects of automation, nonlinear time, generation Z, social media, environmental impact, sustainability, etc., look for people and organisations who use empathy at the heart of innovation, where your idea or passion has the capacity to change behavior. At the end of the day that is what vocation is, and that is why I’ll always go look for it.

‘Where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet, there lies your vocation.’ — Frederick Buechner

Some Young Explorers in the Caprivi.
The Crew.
2018-09-27T06:50:54+00:00September 27th, 2018|Curiosity|