1,300 CEOs were asked what skills they are looking for in employees, and this was what they found out.
A survey of 1,300 CEOs in 68 countries by PwC revealed that 98% of the CEOs in Africa are most concerned about the lack of skills in the market. With the world’s largest young population at over 200 million, Africa has staggering youth unemployment at 60%. Among the complex reasons surrounding unemployment in Africa, and particularly the sub-Saharan region, lack of skills features high on the list.
So, what exactly do African employers seek in the people who apply to work in their organizations? Here are the 5 skills which African employers are looking for. We explain just what these skills are and why they matter. If you are new here, you are welcome. Consider subscribing to After School Africa to continue exploring opportunities.
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- Adaptable Skills
This is a skill that is in high demand not just in Africa but around the globe. The world is constantly evolving with newer technology and problems in need of solutions. How easily you can respond and find solutions to tasks matter a lot. Adaptability is important because as new technology evolves, companies established in the “old ways” may have difficulty competing with major players in their industry. African employers are looking for employees who can demonstrate strong adaptability skills and become company leaders. Charles Darwin keenly observed the principles of adaptability in nature: “it is not the strongest of the species…nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Similarly, employers need team members who can anticipate and respond thoughtfully to changing circumstances at work, and who can think quickly on their feet in response to sudden changes in their environment.
- Growth mindset
Growth mindset assumes the position that someone’s potential is not fixed, and one’s skills and abilities can be increased with passion, training, and deliberate effort. Someone with a growth mindset welcomes challenges and views their failures as opportunities to learn and develop. Where a growth mindset focuses on the process, learning, and the journey, the fixed mindset gets stuck on results. In an ever-changing world and fast pace development, an employee with a fixed mindset soon becomes a liability. And no employer wants to keep liabilities. They want people that will contribute to the growth of the organization.
Learning is an integral part of development and growth. Employees who value learning and adopt it as part of their routine outperform those who do not. On the face of it, it is not obvious whether an individual has a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. But there are a couple of behaviours and traits that can be observed to determine their mindset.
A fixed mindset believes intelligence is static, a growth mindset believes intelligence can be developed. A fixed mindset is more interested in looking smart and avoiding challenges; a growth mindset shows a desire to learn, and therefore embrace challenges. A fixed mindset gives up easily; a growth mindset persists in the face of setbacks. A fixed mindset abhors feedback; a growth mindset seeks out feedback. A fixed mindset feels threatened by the success of others; a growth mindset find lessons and inspiration from the success of others. Do you have a growth mindset? Comment below.
- Innovative Thinking
Think about companies that existed 20 years ago that are nowhere to be found or are struggling today. Kodak, Nokia, MySpace, several of them. Organizations of today have learned lessons from the failures of these companies. Today they play by the simple rule; innovate or die. Innovation is the bedrock of companies that lead in highly competitive markets.
Innovative thinking is about devising new and better ways of solving old problems and meeting challenges. It’s about bringing a fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to their work. This way of thinking can help departments and organizations move in more productive directions. For these reasons, innovative thinkers are extremely valuable to an organization. Yet employers in Nigeria—Africa’s largest economy—cite poor critical thinking skills and an inability to work independently as reasons for their dissatisfaction with graduate hires. Additionally, business executives in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya identified that innovation and risk-taking are core management skills that can be difficult to recruit.
- Leadership Potential
Today more than ever, employers in Africa need workers who are equipped to lead at whatever level they find themselves in their organizations. Employers need leaders who will inspire their colleagues with the values of integrity, hard work and excellence. Leaders who will train and mentor other colleagues. Leaders who can step up and fill big shoes when and if the need arises. This skill comes to some people almost naturally, to others it has to be learnt. Whatever the means, employers in Africa want employees whom they can trust to organize a team and achieve a shared goal. Some companies go a step further to organize in-house leadership training for their entry-level staff. Coca-Cola and General Electric are two companies that have taken this approach to spur leadership potential in their workforce.
- Emotional intelligence
This is the final skill identified as being in high demand by employers in Africa. Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to be aware of, control and express their own emotions as well as being aware of the emotions of others. You exhibit emotional intelligence if you have empathy, integrity and work well with others. Employers in Africa strongly desire self-aware team members with proven interpersonal skills. The economics of emotional intelligence is simple: the more team members work well in teams, the greater their organizational output. However, recent surveys completed by employers in Africa reveal an overwhelming lack of teamwork skills among job candidates. Employees need to be able to manage their own emotions, navigate political dynamics in order to achieve shared goals, but also have the ability to anticipate and respond to customers’ needs. In this era of automation, emotional intelligence stands out among job applicants because machines cannot easily replace a human’s ability to connect with another human being. People with high EQ remain in high demand not just in the African workspace but in the other parts of the world.
Some of the skills required by employers in today’s job market are not taught in the school environment so it is left for applicants to develop them themselves. Unlike in the past, today’s job market is not certificate driven, it is skill-driven and these skills listed above will go a long way in landing you that dream job.
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The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé