The workshop, which was held on 18 June in Kenya, was one of three workshops to be held as part of the ‘Right-skilling the Workforce in Africa for Industry 4.0’ project. The others will be held in Nigeria and South Africa.
The Project, led by the National University of Singapore, is funded by Microsoft Philanthropies Middle East and Africa and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
Against the background of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), brought on by recent breakthroughs in information and communication technologies (ICTs) that are unleashing new capabilities and fundamentally changing the nature of work through automation, the project seeks to identify and evaluate the effectiveness of existing initiatives and their relative success or failure in skilling the workforce.
It also aims to track progress, compare approaches, gauge the impact of successes and failures in different approaches and draw lessons for policy formulation while also exploring the extent to which gender issues have been mainstreamed in initiatives spearheaded by government, academia and key industry players, with a focus on four sectors: (i) agriculture; (ii) manufacturing; (ii) services and (iv) tourism.
Thought leaders and industry practitioners from these sectors discussed what challenges and opportunities there were in skilling the African workforce for Industry 4.0 as well as how to effectively leverage the opportunities that Industry 4.0 presents.
Discussions from the workshop highlighted the need for Kenya to equip its workforce with skills that will make global players going forward, since the 4IR is here to stay. Participants were urged to think about the new opportunities and how they could get involved, as change could only be brought about by small groups of people who understand how things work.