Learning for the Jobs of Tomorrow

IFC is supporting innovative education models that can create opportunities for young adults in the nations that need them most. © Luminus

A young population can be an economic advantage as it shapes itself into a force that drives growth and development. But for the 70 million young people around the world who are jobless and living in poverty, education that leads to employment often seems out of reach. Technical and vocational training can help change that.

Governments and industry leaders are recognizing the relevance of skills-based learning in emerging economies—an IFC priority-- to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change.

The IFC  8th Global Private Education Conference that took place this week in Cape Town, South Africa, brought together 370 executives and thought leaders from 50 countries and more than 200 companies to find solutions that will help young people get the skills and training that will translate into jobs.

Conference speakers focused on how education technologies, and innovative delivery and financing models can promote access to high-quality education in the nations that need it most.


A Shift to Teaching Specific Capabilities

The conference sessions and speakers examined how technology is reshaping today’s jobs, how to address a crisis in primary and secondary education in developing countries, and how to create sustainable business models that serve the education needs of low-income people.

Because there’s going to be a continuing shift towards very specific kinds of capabilities that employers need in as short a time as possible, “that’s going to dramatically (increase) the need for what we’ve traditionally called vocational kinds of training,” said keynote speaker Gary Bolles, Chair of the Future of Work at Silicon Valley-based Singularity University.

Africa’s future was a focus of this event since by 2020 Africa will be the home of almost 660 million people under the age of 25. The “demographic dividend” of these young people is tremendous, “but only if we invest in their future,” said Salah-Eddine Kandri, IFC Global Head of Education.

Although one million people enter the labor market every month in Africa, very few go into the formal economy and only 10 percent of age-eligible youths are enrolled in tertiary education.


Approaches to an Affordable Education

On the eve of the conference, IFC recognized two clients, Andela and Luminus Education. Both have shown that it is possible to provide an affordable, world-class education in emerging markets.

“Brilliance, evenly distributed, doesn’t depend on race, gender, or nationality,” Jeremy Johnson, founder and CEO of Andela, said as he accepted the award.

Andela, based in Nigeria and Kenya, trains software developers and then places them in salaried positions in companies worldwide. So far, Andela has selected more than 600 developers for employment in firms across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.

In Jordan, where Luminus is the leading provider of technical, vocational education and training, unemployment among young people is prevalent: more than a third of those aged 15-24 can’t find a job. Women are disproportionately excluded from the workforce.

Luminus has helped provide Jordan with workers whose skills are tailored to the needs of the national and regional economy. Because its programs aim to tackle the severe skills mismatch between workers and employers throughout Jordan, they emphasize vocational studies that help students secure employment immediately after graduation. With 80 percent of Luminus graduates employed quickly after completing their studies, the focus on vocational training has already shown success.

 “There was a time when vocational training wasn’t considered prestigious enough in Jordan,” said Luminus’ owner, Ibrahim Al Safadi, after he accepted the award. “There has been a shift in culture to the point where over half of our students qualified to attend university but choose to attend Luminus.”

Read more about IFC’s work in education at www.ifc.org/education

Published in April 2018.