NewsInternationalYouth job creation takes centre stage at World Economic Forum


Youth job creation takes centre stage at World Economic Forum

By Mark Anderson in Durban

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, during a plenary session at the 42nd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland. Photo: Jean-Christophe Bott/AP/SIPASouth Africa’s President Jacob Zuma opened the main day of the 27th World Economic Forum on Africa on Thursday by telling a crowd of diplomats and business executives that new jobs must be created for Africa’s young people.


"The youth have been very clear in calling for leaders to address issues of exclusion, poverty and unemployment,” Zuma told delegates. “They are an important stakeholder for us because Africa is a youthful continent, which means we are a continent which has a very bright future if we invest correctly in our young people.”

Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s youngest region with an estimated 60% of its population under the age of 25. About 20 million university graduates are expected to join the region’s workforce every year, according to research by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

"We a banking a great deal on the young people who are being technically trained," Zuma said.

Africa’s youth must be trained in information and technology skills if they are to get jobs. The WEF projects that 41% of all existing work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation, as well as 44% in Ethiopia, 46% in Nigeria and 52% in Kenya.

Zuma also addressed wider issues of rising inequality on the continent. “As leaders, we have not addressed adequately how we are going to close the gap between the rich and the poor in the world and achieve meaningful inclusive growth,” he said. “The gap between the developed and developing worlds [...] remains huge, while the gap between rich and poor in many countries also remains wide.”

The WEF reviewed data from LinkedIn, a professional social network, and found that the most common skilled jobs on the continent include business analysts, commercial bankers, accountants, customer service specialists, advertising professionals, information technology workers and software and app developers.

The meeting is being held under the theme “achieving inclusive growth through responsive and responsible leadership”.

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