Envisioning the Future of Work in Angola (PART 1)
19 de December de 2022
The year is 2030. and about 375 million young people make up Africa´s labour force, contributing to the continent’s long withstanding title: youngest and fastest growing continent in the world. Can you imagine what type of work these young people would be doing? (Don´t answer now… let’s just park that question for a second. We will come back to it.)
Although the numbers above sound humongous, current predictions point out to that. A growing and fast population in Africa is taken as one the external factors to disrupt employment in the continent in the years to come.
While we were starting our research journey into Future of Work (FOW) in Angola, we were invited to tap into its definition, how is it described in other countries outside the African continent, and what are the global trends that are shaping it.
When you hear ‘future of work’, you probably will think about technology, people working from home and office spaces becoming irrelevant, digital services managed by people sitting at home in their pijamas, the 4th industrial revolution, people losing jobs and other types of jobs being created. You might think about artificial intelligence being the new thing and a robot taking your fever at the hospital and feeding you your daily medicine.
Technological innovation is certainly something to watch out and be prepared for, and the African Continent should be looking out for it, however, we should start discussing what does the FOW mean to our own context. We want to be prepared not to lose the train and get hit by a big wave of ‘unknown’ coming from other continents that would swipe our economies and labour markets because we were not ready for it, but we also want to make sure that we are building on what is relevant to our own reality.
FOW should mean first and foremost what we want to make of it. Let’s think about it more from an aspirational perspective and less from an analytical look at global trends or as a reaction to that big unknow wave that is coming for us. If we look at it in these terms, we can put one foot in front of the other, start acting systemically on multiple fronts and gradually build a new reality for what work will mean for Angola in the future.
“Ok, but going back to your question in the beginning…”
Remember our first initial question? Can you imagine what type of work these young people would be doing? Well, if you thought about informality, you are probably right. It is the most common type of work in many African countries, having women and children as one of the groups greatly exposed to inadequate conditions of work. This is the picture as most developing countries face the problem of precarious employment and under-employment. Jobs offering security and basic working conditions are concentrated on few sectors, leaving most of the population that is mainly employed by the informal sector exposed to work without social protection. So as much as we can discuss the future, we will need to start planning now to shift the picture.
“If one is not happy with the work conditions, they can quit. Right?”
In developing countries, people do not have the choice of not working. As unemployment remains an issue, it´s possible to see someone being exposed and forced to take part on precarious activities as they struggle to find decent labour and on the other side, we have those taking part in self-employment but still with extremely low income.
Current “job” opportunities, unfortunately, do not offer social protection to employees, leaving them to retire without income and other benefits. Decent work, as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO), “productive work for women and men in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity” is urgently needed.
COVID 19 has also drastically impacted most development achieved in the past decades. In countries like Angola, that already had an economic crisis, experienced another great hit increasing unemployment rates.
“Angola Workforce Snapshot: let’s talk numbers…”
In Angola, workforce is estimated around 16 million people available for the labour market, representing an activity rate of 89.8%. The country has been ranked, according to the World Bank, on the 177th position out of 190 for business environment.
Angola is a very young country. Though the country holds a reservoir of untapped talent, youth skills and capability remain limited, and available education and training programs are unable to meet current and future labour market demands.
The economy that remains heavily dependent on oil is slowly diverting to other sectors such as agriculture. In addition to that, institutional frameworks for employment and for businesses are still inefficient and bureaucratic, lacking flexibility especially for pioneer entrepreneurs.
This is a two-part blog post. Please continue reading here