By Peter Egwuatu
Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and African Development Bank (AfDB) have engaged Ernst & Young, EY Nigeria, a global professional services firm, to support the development of a well-thought-out human capital strategy, focusing on education, skills development and labour.
A virtual stakeholder forum was organised by ECOWAS in partnership with AfDB to validate the ECOWAS Human Capital Strategy Report.
In a proactive response to the realities of COVID-19, the otherwise planned live event was held virtually with over 100 participants in attendance across the West African region and sub Saharan Africa.
In her opening remarks, Bunmi Kuku, Partner and Performance Improvement Leader, EY, expressed her gratitude to ECOWAS and AfDB for the opportunity to support the noble initiative.
According to her, the overall objective of the study is to provide ECOWAS with a coherent and holistic human capital strategy, focused on education, skills development and labour.
“Continuing, Bumni said: “We expect that this strategy will bring many benefits to the ECOWAS member states, including empowering young pupils and students, accelerating job creation, improving the standards of living, enhancing economic growth, driving regional integration, amongst other benefits.”
The Vice-president of the ECOWAS, Her Excellency Madame Finda Koroma, while declaring the forum open, emphasized on the importance of human capital, noting that in order to anticipate and prepare the resilience of our states to cope with all situations, it has proven important to take stock of the situation on human capital and define a strategy and action plan for the region.
Corroborating the statement by the Vice-president, Dr. Martha Phiri, AfDB Director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Department, highlighted the importance of developing deliberate strategies to reskill the workforce, strengthen industries and promote lifelong learning.
“We need to shift focus to training our youths for the jobs of the future and not for the jobs of yesterday as over 75 million jobs will be replaced by technology according to World Economic Forum (WEF). Most recently, millions of jobs have been threatened as a result of COVID 19 pandemic, with some jobs functions now extinct – almost overnight”, Dr Martha Phiri stated.