Bright continent: African jobs

©André Faber

The gloomy image that has for so long hung over the world’s largest continent may at last be lifting.
Conflict and disease remain a bane, and there are challenges in areas like governance and transport, but as we reported in our last issue (No 255, May 2006), the OECD Development Centre’s latest African Economic Outlook is upbeat about future economic growth there.
One place where this new buoyancy is reflected is in employment. After all, as African prospects brighten, so demand for skills rises. Such is the view of Global Career Company (GCC), an international recruitment firm, which partnered with 40 multinational enterprises (MNEs) for the Careers in Africa UK Summit in London in April. Five years ago, that list comprised just 13 firms.This year, some 800 young African professionals attended, many eager to match their skill sets with the needs of major international firms in sectors ranging from technology and banking to engineering and construction management. Opportunities existed across the entire continent, though Nigeria, Angola and South Africa attracted particular attention.Because participants were profiled in advance to match vacancies, their chances of returning to Africa with a job clinched at the summit were high. One candidate from Nigeria explained that she had come to the UK to enhance her career, but now felt ready to contribute back to her home economy. Another flew in from Africa in search of a career change back home.The system works for both sides. Employers value the summit because not only do they access skills, but also the right profile in terms of culture and background. A delegate from an African-based industrial company put it straight: he was there to attract black people back to South Africa.For GCC director, Sarah Roe, the fact that MNEs send delegates from afar to the summit means they take the event seriously. The recruitment of African-born professionals offers a potent mix of skilled individuals who understand both international business and local African requirements, Ms Roe points out. And if the trend persists, Africa’s economy should benefit too. PW/RJCVisit©OECD Observer No 256, July 2006

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