Skills and education mismatch keeps African women from accessing good jobs – report


Young women in Ghana and Senegal face barriers in the world of work due to social prejudices, a lack of access to the right education and resources, limited opportunities for career advancement, unfavorable workplace conditions, and ineffective government policies, according to a new report by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

The report, ‘Barriers to Young Women’s Employment in the Future World of Work in Ghana & Senegal’, examines the obstacles to young women’s employment in the future world of work in Ghana and Senegal and proposes corrective actions to minimize inequalities and strengthen young women’s skills for tomorrow’s work environment.

Although the employment-to-population ratio for women in sub-Saharan Africa is relatively high at 57percent, most of these women operate in the informal sector and have limited access to the labor market.

This study was conducted in Ghana and Senegal and covers three sectors: agriculture, tourism and hospitality, and business process outsourcing (BPO). It highlights a persistent mismatch between education and the skills required for the future world of work; whereby educational systems are consistently producing graduates who are ill-equipped for the labor market, particularly in the ICT sector and for professions that require technical or vocational skills. This is affecting the way women transition into the world of work, not just in Ghana and Senegal but across Africa.

“There are more girls and women in schools in Africa today than ever before, but we are failing to teach them what they need to know to succeed and thrive in the world of work,” said Mona Iddrisu, Head, Youth Employment and Skills at the African Center for Economic Transformation.

“We must improve learning environments for girls and young women so that they can gain the required skills, in particular digital skills, to reach their full potential, while at the same time making workplaces more flexible and welcoming for all workers, especially women. This is an imperative for African countries.”

Research in the study points to the four recommendations that policy makers and citizens in Ghana, Senegal, and other African countries can take on board immediately. One, improve enrollment and retention in school by building modern schools and education centers that will equip girls with employable skills fit for the future of work.

Two, encourage parents to reduce the unequal domestic burden on girls. Three, enhance the school-to-work transition by providing career guidance and mentoring for girls as well as access to digital training programs and internships. Four, pass and implement laws and policies against gender discrimination in the workplace, and encourage gender diversity at all levels in businesses.

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