Online learning, affordable internet services key to preparing Ghanaians for the digital workforce

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Twenty-first century employers are currently looking for Blockchain experts, product photographers, writers for search engine optimization, Web UI/UX designers, WordPress developers, Enterprise architects, animation experts, Shopify developers, Asana project managers and Lead generation gurus. Is the young Ghanaian well equipped to compete for such jobs?

No, but we could be.

Google recently launched the Google Digital Skills for Africa program, which aims to equip African youth with digital skills to build businesses and create jobs. While this is a good attempt to prepare Ghanaians with the digital skills they need, the hard truth is that the youth will require advanced digital courses to thrive in the uncertain digital economy.  

So, what will it really take to enhance the skills needed to prepare Ghanaian youth for the digital economy and the future of work?

My answer: expose young Ghanaians to freelance websites like Upwork, and online learning platforms like Udemy and LinkedIn Learning.

Every day, thousands of individuals and businesses go to Upwork in search of freelancers with specific technical and non-technical skills. For young Ghanaians who are proactive about skill-related training and eager to keep up with new job market trends, this job platform is a gold mine.

The platform provides deep insight into the emerging skills needed for 21st century businesses to thrive. Exposure to Upwork will not only help Ghanaian youth appreciate the rapid evolution of digital skills but also inspire them to re-skill themselves to remain relevant in the digital job market.

To a large extent, the obsession of young Ghanaians with mobile phones makes this feasible. The challenge however, is gaining access to reliable and affordable data connections. This is where giant internet providers should step in to provide support in the form of low, internet service packages for the youth. The goal is to make it possible for the youth to acquaint themselves on Upwork with the fastest growing in-demand skills and learn what is needed to compete for digital jobs that did not exist five years ago.

Online learning platforms such as Udemy and LinkedIn Learning are making tremendous investments in digital skills training. They deliver relevant courses to equip students with job-ready skills sought by 21st century employers. Unfortunately, these courses are not free and could cost anything between $20 and $200, a bit pricey for the average Ghanaian.

In a show of support, Ghanaian tertiary institutions could push for affiliate partnerships with Udemy and LinkedIn in exchange for discounts for their students. Companies could also join in the challenge by providing generous scholarships or by waiving online tuition fees for young Ghanaians to keep up with the pace of technology. Other private sector interventions could include the provision of vibrant co-working spaces that are convenient enough to inspire life-long learning and innovation among Ghanaian youth.

Dinah Recheal Blankson, a Ghanaian national, is a winner of the World Bank Africa 2019 Blog4Dev regional competition.

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