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Retooling workforce for Fourth Industrial Revolution 

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Femi Balogun


As the dynamics of human existence continually evolve so also the type of workforce needed to fulfil the needs of the population emerges.
 
These evolutions presuppose the necessity of retooling and reskilling the present workforce while taking steps to prepare for challenges that will confront new entrants into the workplace.  
   
Experts are of the view that as technology develops and industry shifts towards sustainability, millions of jobs are likely to be displaced.
 
Specifically, they maintained that businesses and economies would need skilled labour to fulfil the millions of new roles that would be created by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). 
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Noting that there was little doubt about the scale, urgency, and global nature of the challenge, they said it presents an opportunity to create long-term, sustainable, equitable and inclusive growth.
 
According to them, the 4IR would require a workforce and a new mindset that is open to continual development and lifelong learning.
 
Evaluation and Research Specialist at Jobberman Nigeria, Femi Balogun, said for young people to be prepared for 4IR, there is a need to close the existing gap between education (learning outcomes) and employment (skills in demand).
 
He said this could only happen when mainstream curricular is designed in ways that are relevant for the job market continuously.
 
Importantly, he advised that young people needed to be socialised to develop both soft and digital skills from the primary school stage for them to take advantage of the 4IR.
 
He suggested an integrated approach where the academia, government, private sector and practitioners co-create the development of a curriculum would go a long way in preparing young people effectively for the future of work.
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He added that Nigeria’s unemployment rate had continued to rise due to several factors, including gaps in the country’s education system, as well as lack of access to jobs. 
 
Already, data by the World Bank had suggested that 18 to 20 per cent of tertiary institutions’ graduates would require training interventions for about one to four years to become employable. 
 
Additionally, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) had also stressed the need to embrace and plug into the global digital revolution.
 
It stated that the sector remained crucial in accelerating Nigeria’s recovery from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.
Similarly, in a recent report on ‘Reskilling the Workforce, One Person at a Lifetime’, Managing Director, Growth, Strategy, Innovation, Accenture, Amit Mehra, said the rapid pace of technological development and a significant shift towards sustainability would make it essential to reskill the workforce.
 
For the shift needed to be propelled by lifelong learning, he said employers and education providers must work much more closely together to equip people to meet these challenges, adding that employers should be the catalysts and accelerators of this shift.
 
He said people who continue to improve their skills over their working lives also widen their opportunities. He said as they move closer to doing the kind of work they love, that could have a profound impact on global well-being and productivity.
 
According to him, it must be underpinned by new measures of human endeavour that go beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to capture productivity, creativity and mental health. 
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The report stated that many leading companies were already investing billions of dollars in training their workforces, even as many are deploying their resources to make a broader impact beyond their immediate and future workforces.
 
This, it stated, opened up a major opportunity for education and learning providers. Accenture estimated that the learning and education market – broadly comprising four segments of content development, teaching and learning experiences, testing and certification, and outcome-related services – is a $7 trillion market that will grow to $8.9 trillion by 2025.
 
It stated: “Digital formats are expected to grow from between nine to 12 per cent annually. This is unsurprising as just three per cent of the education and learning expenditure is digital, in contrast with well over 30 per cent in sectors such as entertainment and content.
 
“The economic and social opportunities of the 4IR rely upon closer integration and partnership between employers and education providers, supported by the government and civil society. Work should no longer be the destination once education is “finished” – rather, it should be a continuation of a process of lifelong learning.
 
“By working collaboratively in instilling a desire for lifelong learning early in life, we will make a significant contribution towards a more sustainable, inclusive, equitable growth, and improved well-being on a global scale.”

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