Job creation and economic growth.

Author:Williams, Stephen

Africa is confronting a major problem and something of a paradox. For although there are large numbers of unemployed across Africa, many companies have difficulties finding suitable candidates for positions that become vacant. This paradox points to the existence of a critical skills mismatch. Stephen Williams discusses the issues.

There is a hugely competitive struggle for talent in sub-Saharan Africa. Even as African companies gear up for growth, identifying the opportunities that a rapidly emerging middle-class consumer class present, they are hobbled by the continent's skills mismatch. Consequently, they find it more difficult to match their overseas competitors, as borne out by the PwC 18th Global Annual CEO Survey 2015 (see page 56). There is also evidence of a rapidly evolving employment landscape in Africa. As South Africa's former Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel, put it: "Traditional forms of employment are disappearing, especially in the agriculture and mining sectors." It appears that traditional jobs are being lost to new technologies. In a sense, the jobs market is leapfrogging over the current labour pool, leaving all except those who can adapt to the new environment in its wake.

Technical and professional skills are most in demand by African companies, while demand for executive skills tends to be weaker. The most favoured means of finding suitable employees is through recruitment agencies and company websites, although the technique of using 'headhunters' (or even informal networks that can recommend suitable candidates) remain viable options.

Most African companies prefer to source talent from local talent pools. Local employees have a number of positive attributes--they are familiar with local culture and business etiquette; they tend to have lower salary expectations than expatriates, returning diaspora, or those from other African countries; they avoid the cost of relocation expenses; and they can be hired more quickly.

As well as executive search and recruitment agencies, both print media and digital channels (including social media) are popular recruiting methods. In fact, the half dozen or so HR specialists that New African spoke to about recruitment all mentioned the increasing importance of social media in the recruitment process.

The importance of an employer's brand is also becoming an important factor in attracting the right caliber of candidate.

As importantly, companies are placing a significant emphasis on...

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