We must reposition the TVETs to prepare our youths for future jobs

A student operates a General Surface Grinding machine at Riatirimba Technical Training Institute in Kisii County on August 27, 2021. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The issue about jobs of the future has been at the centre stage of TVET reforms globally with a focus on jobs at key sectors that present the greatest opportunity for growth and support sustainable development.

A number of sectors like construction, digital, manufacturing, hospitality, creative industry, agriculture and blue economy have continued to provide greater potential for future skills. This requires training systems with internationally accepted credentials to guarantee skills passport to graduates.

Construction industry is a key driver of value creation in economies around the world with a projected annual job growth of about 12% to more than 200 million jobs worldwide. To meet the need of the growing population estimated at 7.7 billion people living in cities globally by 2050, more than 13,000 buildings along with supporting physical infrastructure must be constructed daily resulting in a $10 trillion worth of investment.

Smart construction, digital design, green, sustainable and low carbon buildings are some of the new technologies thus changing completely building culture thus opening new opportunities. Smart homes and automated offices, digital modelling, and green energy are something that must be embraced by the architects, building managers, maintenance and installation crews and construction teams of the future.

Nowadays ICT has become a key driver of productivity and growth worldwide. Mobility, broadband, platform development and metadata are shaping the face of business through rapid innovation. Digitisation is one important aspect of the changing technological landscape, including the mass adoption of connected digital services by consumers, enterprises and governments. Most of the developed countries have adopted it and created many IT business start-ups. Big data will also mean massive opportunities for job creation.

According to the World Economic Forum, nearly 97 million skills among them data analysts, data scientists, artificial intelligence/machine learning and cloud computing will be in high demand by 2025. Each additional IT job could generate employment for 3 more people outside the tech industry. Efficiency and innovation that stem from big data will see those economies harnessing its usage gaining advantages. This will further advance the Internet of Things (IoT) where all devices are connected to assist our daily work and life.

Today, the industry finds itself in the midst of the industry 4.0, which is poised to transform work at an unprecedented pace through exponential technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and cognitive automation, advanced analytics, and the IoT. The industry 4.0 is creating a mismatch between available workers and the skills necessary for open jobs globally.

Part of the challenge the industry faces is understanding how today's jobs and associated skills are translating into new jobs and career pathways that continue to evolve along with advanced technology. It is therefore important to understand the skills that will become "must-haves" in the future workplace and the pathways for training and education to enable these skills. Employers and workers alike need to embrace a work environment that is expected to blend advanced technology and digital skills with uniquely human skills, to yield the highest level of productivity.

Equally hospitality and tourism industry is one of the world's largest employers and before Covid-19 pandemic, the industry along with related investments and supply chain contributed to the employment of over 400 million people around the world. The global hospitality market size was estimated to be worth around $3,900 billion in 2021 and is predicted to grow to around $6,500 billion by 2028 with a compound annual growth rate of over 10% in the same period, hence, the industry continues to be a powerful generator of career opportunities. Every new job created in the industry translate to 1.5 jobs down the supply chain, spurring growth in local communities and the industry is expected to support an additional 100 million jobs worldwide by 2028.

The employers are looking for a combination of hard and soft skills to deliver the ultimate guest experience. Some of the skills include coding not only for setting websites and e-business platforms but also to help understand and integrate with more tools. Also, the ability to accurately gather and analyse data will help identify the experiences valued by guests for improved decision making. Social media management and digital marketing have increasingly become important especially for growing guests. Guests prefer reading reviews and recommendations for hotels, resorts and restaurants on social media as opposed to official business websites. Therefore, graduates with a combination of managerial expertise, soft skills and digital savvy are in high demand and short supply.

The creative industry constitutes to be one of the fastest-growing sectors globally and it is estimated to account for 10% of GDP in the USA and Brazil. It has also been crucial in the development of fast-growing economies like India, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Nigeria. The industry which has its origin in individual creativity, skill and talent with a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. Creative industry jobs are hugely varied and include among others writing code for a tech start-up, creating costumes backstage at a theatre, drawing building plans in an architecture studio, or filming a football game. It is therefore important to to develop the technical abilities and specialist know how required for specific job in addition to key specific skills and qualities that will give one the edge in this competitive industry.

The global demand for food will grow by over 30% by 2030 yet the agriculture's share of global GDP has shrunk to about 3% in the last decade. The reality is that very little innovation has taken place in the industry lately. In any case, nothing to indicate that food scarcity and hunger will not be an issue in the coming decades. The issues that are placing pressure on the legacy agriculture model in meeting the demands of the future include demographics, scarcity of natural resources, climate change, and food waste which are all intensifying the hunger and food scarcity problem.

Therefore, agriculture will no longer depend on applying water, fertilizers, and pesticides uniformly across entire fields. Instead, farmers will use the minimum quantities required and target specific areas. It will be possible to grow crops in arid areas, making use of abundant and clean resources such as the sun and seawater. Farms and agricultural operations will have to be run very differently, primarily due to advancements in technology such as sensors, devices, machines, and ICT. Future agriculture will use sophisticated technologies such as robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images and GPS technology. The application of these technologies requires skilled workforce.

The blue economy which estimated to be worth $300 billion and employing about 350 million people globally is growing fast, and action is needed to attract enough people to fill the millions of new jobs being created in tourism, fishing and aquaculture, maritime transport, ocean-based renewable energy and marine biotechnology among others. According to International Chamber of Shipping, there will be serious shortage of seafarers by 2026 unless the industry significantly increases training and recruitment. Many maritime-based jobs do not necessarily involve working on ships as the ocean sector also needs engineers and data modellers.