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Abstract

This study focuses on the skills requirements and the development thereof among 109 interviewed formal sector agribusiness companies in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, and South Africa. The study was conducted in the context of anticipated dramatic changes in Africa’s food consumption patterns over coming decades, driven by rising incomes and urban populations, and the need for new and better skills in the workforce in order to satisfy this demand. Among the key findings are (1) except for South Africa, companies predominantly employ O-level graduates but (in all countries including South Africa) expect demand for graduates beyond A-Level to grow the fastest over the next five years; (2) while companies see a need for improved technical skills, “soft” skills were also seen as critically important and an area of relative dissatisfaction by the companies; (3) to improve the skills of their workforce, companies in four of the five countries dominantly rely on in-house training, and in three of those four, the option of paying for college or university training ranked 3rd or 4th out of four options; (4) results on relationships with vocational training institutions were varied, with companies in South Africa with a more technical or production related core business typically showing a strong relationship with them, whereas companies with a more financial core business showed a poor to non-existent relationship; and (5) a general concern seen most clearly in South Africa related the quality of primary and secondary education (especially as regards math and science), and the lack of practical and relevant industry experience of entry level employees after completing tertiary education.

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