Bridging the Job Preparedness Gap: Three Strategic Approaches

Strategies for bridging the job preparedness gap
  • By Shiyayo Catherine
  • January 15, 2024

In our previous article, we took a general look at the job preparedness gap and some of the challenges employers face when looking to hire new graduates. Some of the challenges we identified included lack of technical proficiency, poor soft skills and inadequate domain and industry-specific knowledge. We attributed this challenges to among other factors the severe mismatch between the skills produced by our education system and the current/future needs of the labor market.

Indeed, the widening skills gap within various sectors including insurance and finance are eroding the competitive advantage of even the most well-entrenched organizations. Data from audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed a shortage in skills within digital operations and a lack of investment in technology making sectors like insurance less attractive to young graduates. Not surprisingly, this is not just a challenge for African organization but a global issue. The US Chamber of Commerce released a report in 2021 forecasting a talent crisis within the insurance industry because ‘millennials have not shown significant interest in insurance careers.’

In this article, we shift our focus to strategic approaches that employers can adapt to effectively address the skills gap and build a stronger and more skilled workforce. A number of organizations at home and abroad are already using targeted approaches to skill development and adapting strategic approaches that address the evolving skills gap. Below are a few examples.

 

Strategic approaches to address job preparedness gap: 

 

Partnerships between Industry and Academia: 

Establishing partnerships with educational institutions to develop industry-specific training programs has become highly critical to enable students gain real-work experiences and acquire job-ready skills. Industry giants like Google, IBM and Amazon know this very well and have established collaboration initiatives with education institutions to customize their programs in line with the rapidly changing talent needs of industry. In Africa, Samsung is actively partnering with various universities Africa to improve chances of employability. TQ Academy, a Turnkey Africa initiative, is also building collaborative partnerships with academia, industry players and the government with the aim of developing industry-specific training programs to better equip students for the working world.

 

Internship and Apprenticeship Initiatives: 

Providing opportunities for students to gain real-world experience through internships and apprenticeships has substantial benefits for both the student and the organization. While students gain much needed experience, employers gain valuable support while they invest in their own future, discover new talent and future leaders. Companies like Microsoft, LinkedIn in the US as well as Unilever and Kenya Breweries Ltd in Kenya have structured apprenticeship programs that enable students to learn from experienced employees and hone their skills. These programs expose graduates to many different areas of the working world. This hands-on exposure allows them to develop practical skills and a deeper understanding of the industry.

 

Mentorship Programs: 

Implementing mentorship initiatives that connects experienced professionals with recent graduates is critical to enabling an organization to attract, grow and retain the right talent. General Electric (GE) in the US is known to be a leader in mentoring where the company fosters collaborative learning by encouraging top executives to mentor younger employees. Turnkey Africa has embedded mentoring into its culture where at the on-boarding of a new hire or intern a mentor is identified and assigned. This mentor walks with them for the duration of their employment focusing on personal and professional growth of the intern. This enables the mentor to truly discover and horn their mentees potential and talents. Mentoring facilitates knowledge transfer, offering guidance on industry intricacies and fostering the development of essential soft skills.

 

Conclusion:

In industries that are rapidly evolving, such as technology and finance, the gap between higher education and industry is widening. The job preparedness gap within the insurance industry is even wider. By addressing challenges head-on and implementing strategic solutions, like those mentioned here, employers can actively contribute to the development of a skilled and adept workforce. TQ Academy invests in the professional growth of graduates not only to benefit individual employees but also strengthen the industry as a whole, ensuring its resilience and adaptability in an ever-evolving landscape.