Does Higher Education Still Prepare Young-people for Jobs?

Image result for AI Jobs

We often hear employers and business leaders lament the unfortunate gap between what new graduates have learned at university and what they are actually expected to know in order to do their jobs well. This is particularly alarming in light of the large and still growing number of unemployed youth.

While education is free for students in South Africa, it is not cheap, there is a clear premium on education the returns of investments are very lucrative for those who choose the right kinds of skills for the future. However, the value added by a university degree decreases as the number of graduates increases.

At the same time, as university qualifications become more common, recruiters and employers will increasingly demand them, regardless of whether they are actually required for a specific job. So, while tertiary degrees may still lead to higher-paying jobs, the same employers handing out these jobs are hurting themselves and young people by limiting their candidate pool to university graduates. In an age of ubiquitous disruption and unpredictable job evolution, it is hard to argue that the knowledge acquisition historically associated with a university degree is still relevant.

There are several data-driven arguments that question the actual, rather than the perceived, value of a university degree. A number of  meta-analytic reviews have long-established that the correlation between education level and job performance is weak. In fact, the research shows that intelligence scores are a much better indicator of job potential. If we were to pick between a candidate with a university degree and a candidate with a higher intelligence score, we could expect the latter to outperform the former in most jobs, particularly when those jobs require constant thinking and learning. Academic marks are indicative of how much a candidate has studied, but their performance on an intelligence test reflects their actual ability to learn, reason, and think logically.

University degrees are also confounded with social class, while many universities in South Africa do select students on meritocratic grounds, even merit-based selection is conflated with variables that decrease the diversity of admitted applicants. Affluent  families with more money can afford to pay for better schools, tutors, extracurriculars, and other privileges that increase their child’s likelihood of accessing an elite higher education. This, in turn, affects the entire trajectory of that child’s future, including their future career prospects providing a clear advantage to some and a clear disadvantage to others.

Having said that, universities could substantially increase the value of their graduates if they spent more time teaching their students critical soft skills. Recruiters and employers are unlikely to be impressed by candidates unless they can demonstrate a certain degree of people-skills. This is perhaps one of the biggest differences between what universities and employers look for in applicants. While employers want candidates with higher levels of EQ, resilience, empathy, and integrity, those are rarely attributes that universities nurture.

As the impact of Artificial Intelligence and disruptive technology grows, candidates who can perform tasks that machines cannot are becoming more valuable and that underscores the growing importance of soft skills, which are hard for machines to emulate.

In short,I believe that the job market calls for a paradigm change. More and more students are spending more and more money on higher education, and their main goal is largely pragmatic: to boost their employability and be a valuable contributor to the economy. Even if the value attached to a university degree is beneficial to those who obtain it, companies can help change the narrative by putting less weight on “higher education” as a measure of intellectual competence and job potential, and instead, approach hiring with more open-mindedness.

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The Innovations Closing Africa’s Electric Power Gap

Image result for african energy crisesWhen you fly over Africa you realist how dark the continent is, and this is not because of her people, its simply because Africa is not powered.Humanity has never before had such resources, knowledge, and technology at its disposal yet it is a long way from translating those advances into decent lives for all the world’s people. We believe that innovation by businesses large and small can play a central role in closing that gap and solving the world’s challenges. Africa’s shortage of electric power is one of the greatest such challenges, and the push to electrify the continent provides inspiring examples of entrepreneurial solutions.

A few numbers show just how far Africa has to go in power generation. Electricity con­sumption per person in large African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria is less than one-tenth that of Brazil or China. In poorer countries such as Mali, a typical household uses less electricity in a year than a Londoner uses to boil a kettle each day. And nearly 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity altogether with the result that whole communities literally live half their lives in the dark.

The power gap imposes high economic costs, electricity is the life-blood of any  economy, it is the key to getting businesses to work, whether you’re in the agricultural sector, or mining sector. When we talk of foreign capital investment, one of the most deterring factors for foreign to invest in Africa is the energy crises it faces.

While I understand why investors might see energy in Africa as reason to avoid Africa, I do strongly believe that the lack of energy in Africa is an opportunity rather than a threat that which bold innovative investors can use to help close the power gap.

Expanding Africa’s power grid is very important, it’s not the only part of the solution. A new breed of African innovators is harnessing the  advances in solar power and battery storage, to leapfrog the continent’s gaps in electric power generation. One example is Kenya-based M-Kopa, which provides solar-powered electricity generation and storage solutions to households that lack access to the grid

The time to expand the  use digital technologies in Africa has come. The time to decarbonized, decentralized energy in Africa has come, fortunately this cannot be done by governments neither should it. It is the only the muscle of businesses that can switch on the plug for Africa.

FURTHER READING:

Africa’s Business Revolution: How to Succeed in the World’s Next Big Growth Market
STRATEGY & EXECUTION BOOK

 

paradigm switch instead of shift

Image result for swiss knife

Like a multi-compacted Swiss knife, so should your character be.

 

This pliability is important in maneuvering  unfamiliar terrains. I was recently having a conversation with one of the computer science professors about paradigm switch: thee ability to switch ones paradigm as opposed to shifting or changing it.

His American accent gave him away that he is observing from the birds-eye-view of an outsider. He was talking about some of the observations he noticed from his students who come from the rural parts of South Africa, and how their socially navigate these spaces with all they encompass.

Most of the time students from rural areas feel that they are too rural for these places and when they go back home they feel too urban for their homesteads. This is how the social re-engineering of being able to switch instead of changing your paradigm.

Paradigm switching requires a much greater sense of self-awareness to be able to successfully navigate your way in both the rural and urban spaces. The danger of shifting (moving from one to the other) is the parts of your identity and you might loos in the process.

paradigm switching, allows you to benefit from both worlds, without renegading   the other. I can do a Mochaccino and croissants with you with the same craftiness I can do maas with maize with a gogo back home. I am like a Swiss knife, when a situation requires a screwdriver I can easily open the right compartment of my social skills as per requirement. In situations that require a pair of scissors, I open my social scissors, cut and move on.

A Swiss knife is not a screw-driver, its not a pair of scissors,its a Swiss knife! don`t let its ability to switch around confuse you.

What the doctor said

What the doctor said.
He said it does n`t look good.
He said it looks bad, in fact real bad.

He said I counted 32 of them in one lung
before I stopped counting.
I said I am glad I would n`t want to know
about anymore being better than that.

He said, are you a religious man?
Do you kneel down on floors and ask for help?
when you go through storms, do you stop
at such moments and ask for understanding?

I said not yet, but I intend to start today.
He said I am really sorry,
He said I wish I had other news to share with you.
I said Aah man (Amen).

He said some other thing I did n`t catch.
And not knowing what else to do,
and not wanting him to to have to repeat it,
and me to fully digest it.

I just sat there and looked at him
and he looked back.

I t was then I jumped up and thanked this man.
It was then I jumped up shook hands with this man.
Who had just given me something no one has given me.
I may have even thanked him, habit being so strong.

Conversations in Dakawa, Tanzania

 

“We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people…” (Freedom Charter, 1955)


After 1994 it was popularly believed that political freedom was going to usher in economic freedom. That the new democracy implied not just the right to vote, but it also entailed a more inclusive ownership of the economy. The Freedom Chatter promised that all citizens shall share in the country’s wealth. This was the promise made by the ANC to the citizens of South Africa, in its ready to govern policy guidelines for a democratic South Africa, which was published in 1992 (ANC, 1992) this was again emphasised.

Securing political power was supposed to be the first step not the only step. After political power was seized the ANC was going to drive the quest for economic freedom of all people. But the negotiations that were lead by Nelson Mandela and the Transitional Comettee which was made of intelligent minds like the likes of Mbeki, Manuel and Mboweni, were outsmarted by the Afrikaaner Nationalist and the Western world.

I can imagine why our leaders might have been tricked to believe that political freedom was a magic wand for South Africa`s problems. It is quite difficult assessing the importance of economic freedom from political freedom as the two are inextricably connected.

It is only now that we are recognising the connection, that in fact political freedom and economic freedom are sides of the same coin, you cannot have one without the other. It is Milton Friedman, and American economist who puts it quite well when he attests that economic freedom is a prerequisite for true political freedom, as economic freedom determines the kind of political freedoms we can enjoy.

Friedman emphasises the power of economic power, and he takes the argument further by claiming that economic power determines the quality of political power a society can enjoy. Looking in retrospect one and safely deduce two types of freedom represent the two sides of the same coin.

The importance of political freedom is intrinsically linked to political freedom, the conviction that an individual should be free to pursue his or her own ideals in a manner that he or she deems fit. This sort freedom has been fundamental in the building thriving societies where its citizens are free to pursue their own happiness and self-determine their futures.

Today sadly in South Africa government has failed to create an enabling environment where people can thrive and follow their passions. This is why the first thing that ‘Top talent does in South Africa, is to leave! The prosperity of countries depends on political freedom and economic freedom used to create enabling environment for the young people.

As South Africa enters a third decade of its political emancipation, we must ask ourselves as South Africans very  uncomfortable questions about the past that has brought us to where, we are at the present so we can honestly engage with our present lived realities. Eternal vigilance is the price of democracy and a thriving state.

Bibliography
2014, D. I. (2015). Developmemntal Indicators 2014.
ANC. (1992, January 117). African National Congress. Retrieved from http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?id=227: (http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?id=227)