Against the backdrop of a struggling informal sector and a formal sector that focuses more on investing in primary education than it does on harnessing skills there is need for a structured plan in terms of skills development. In 2005, the Growth and Poverty Reduction Summit held in Ghana emphasised the importance of skills development for developing countries, however little has been done to realise the goals set thereafter.
While Ghana shows growth in its economy as well as a positive trajectory, one aspect of its development poses a threat to sustainable productivity levels and retention of skilled professionals. It is arguable that the mismatch or at times the total absence of skills becomes a stumbling block for future business growth. How then do organisations improve their human resource to better equip employees in order to enable progress and increase competitive edge? Furthermore, how do we capacitate the informal sector to strengthen the value chain from the ground up?
Skills development is the answer. The skills gap can be minimised by identifying programmes that seek to address specific needs identified by decision makers or sector specific market players. A key factor in human capital development is found in an organisation’s willingness to drive transformation internally, by developing existing resources.
The importance of having a capable and motivated workforce cannot be overstated. If organisations continue to place the skills development of their workforce on the back burner the results will be stifled growth, a loss in market share, and a dent in what might have been a long-standing positive reputation. This echoes a lack of transformation and innovation.
While there is a notable effort towards fostering change through skills-based programmes, more needs to be done for the informal sector where the majority of the population lies. This is also the segment currently receiving the least attention but shows the greatest potential.
A skilled workforce is able to overcome functional and strategic challenges. It also means that those with technical skills will become well-rounded employees with a greater propensity to grow within the organisation through the acquisition of soft skills which are required for specialist, managerial and executive roles.
The value for the informal sector lies in the entrepreneurs’ ability to build on a formidable foundation for their start-ups. This means they are also able to advance the employment creation agenda by building their skills acumen in order to become the job creators of tomorrow.
A proactive approach motivated by industry enablers can assist in placing skills development at the top of the agenda. A transformed skills landscape is possible through a renewed emphasis on human capital development.
Paul Malherbe is the CEO and managing director of African Management Services Company (AMSCO), a human capital development organisation that focuses on capacitating enterprises across sub-Saharan Africa.