9 Future Jobs That Will Power Africa
Ever heard of an "Invisible Executive" or a "Nutrient Banker"? Those are just a few of the positions that are being created in Africa today that will drive economic development in the coming decades.
60% of the best jobs in the next 10 years haven’t been invented yet. At least that’s what futurologist Thomas Frey is fond of saying. This is great news for Africa because lots of good, new jobs will be needed in order for the continent to reverse staggering youth unemployment rates.
Where will these jobs come from? From social entrepreneurs in Africa who are creating new opportunities as they transform their chosen fields. Here is a list of top jobs I expect to see employing young people in Africa over the next decade:
1: DIVERSITY DESIGNER
As the world becomes more interconnected, the ability to build and lead diverse teams will be critical in any sector. In Kenya, Fred Ouko founded ANDY (the Action Network for the Disabled). With help from ANDY, large employers employ dozens of youth with disabilities and report that diverse teams are better able to adapt to changes and create new solutions. Does your company need a Diversity Designer?
2: UNIVERSITY FOUNDER
South Africa’s first free university, CIDA City Campus, was founded in 2000 by Taddy Blecher. Since then, 6,000 alumni received a free education in exchange for managing day-to-day operations. Six other institutions founded on these principles have educated more than 600,000 young people, but demand is still skyrocketing across Africa. University Founders who can provide a world-class, entrepreneurial, and free education will be in huge demand.
3: WELLNESS COACH
Paige Elenson of Kenya started the Africa Yoga Project in 2006. Today you can book a private yoga lesson online with one of more than 70 trained instructors or join more than 300 weekly yoga classes in Nairobi. Someday, when AYP expands across the continent and its alumni launch new companies in the global wellness and health tourism market (already worth an estimated $3 billion annually), you’ll have to hire a Wellness Coach to help you navigate all the options.
4: INVISIBLE EXECUTIVE
Across West Africa, independent and entrepreneurial workers at Karim Sy’s network of JokkoLabs are turning traditional employment on its head. At these collaborative spaces, “invisible executives” build teams around emerging opportunities. Have a tricky challenge? Surf over to one of the six JokkoLabs where more than 3,000 coworkers are already solving 21st-century problems.
5: ECOSYSTEM ADVOCATE
For too long, human economic activities have not properly accounted for nature’s abundant contributions. In Benin, Salim Dara launched Solidarité Rurale to build a network of demonstration farms where students experience the interconnectedness of nature and the importance of balanced, sustainable ecosystems. In the future, graduates could be employed as Ecosystem Advocates protecting cities’ watersheds or vulnerable landscapes.
6: ALIEN EXPERIENCE ADVISOR
Where will we find employees with enough global empathy to navigate “normal” workdays filled with international video chatting and intercontinental brand strategy? Start by recruiting talent from Nafisika Trust which was founded by Vickie Wambura in 2006. Nafisika works to transform Kenya’s prisons into thriving centers of rehabilitation and enlightenment. Last year alone, Nafisika’s hyper-empathetic volunteers gave more than 11,000 hours of pro bono support to 4,500 prisoners. These volunteers are expert cultural navigators.
7: NUTRIENT BANKER
Tools for measuring nutrients in soil, food, and our bodies are increasingly sophisticated and accessible to average consumers. Soon, home gardeners and smallholder farmers can buy Soil IQ, a wireless soil sensor developed by Jason Arambaru that helps farmers by turning a reading of soil health into instant agricultural advice. With better tools we can expect to see new professionals creating, maintaining, and supplying a full spectrum of nutrition in landscapes as soil health experts, nutrient trackers, and even Nutrient Bankers.
8: CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTABILITY AGENT
In Zimbabwe, Verengai Mabika’s Development Reality Institute has conducted online courses for 800 students from 28 countries focused on the Earth’s changing climate system. Hundreds of primary school children in Zimbabwe also regularly participate in "Cool Clubs." Verengai’s ultimate goal is to build society’s adaptive capacity by preparing young people to tackle 21st-century challenges. Future employers will thank him.
9: RAT TRAINER
Bart Weetjens was frustrated that the world’s best solutions for detecting unexploded ordinance and diseases relied on expensive, foreign technologies, especially when a hardy African rodent had all the tools for the job: a strong sense of smell and an eagerness to be trained. Today APOPO rat trainers across Africa and Asia have de-mined more than 62,000 acres and detected 5,087 previously misdiagnosed tuberculosis cases. Given the many applications of this “technology”--from shipping ports to airport security--demand for rat trainers is increasing.
Some of these careers are still a bit ahead of their time, but you can prepare for all these future professions by cultivating a changemaker mindset through hands-on experience. The hot jobs of the future will go to empathetic, creative, action-takers who dare to think big, build teams, and change the world.