Improving the Relevance of University Training to Labour Market Demands in Africa

Project Duration: 2015-

Donor: Association for African Universities (AAU)

Contacts: Dr. Nicholas Ozor, 

Executive Director, ATPS

Email: executivedirector@atpsnet.org 


In aligning with emerging trend, many African universities are beginning to introduce innovative competent-based learning model in order to improve the employability of graduates, enhance their capacity to adapt to the constantly evolving working environment and to develop expertise that meet the labour market demand in a developing society. This emerging education model seeks to redefine the conventional way of imparting theoretical and empirical knowledge in perse study areas by focusing on the aspect of applicability and action-oriented nature, with the view of applying this knowledge in various context and situation. Based on this model, centres of excellence, research commercial offices, and new curricula are being developed in universities with the aim to harness skills, create transformational mind-set and other aptitudes to develop competent professionals that match the demand and requirements of the labour market, which is dynamically evolving; driven by innovation, emerging technologies and new market trends. Keeping up with this pace of change is a continuing challenge for learning institutions in Africa. There is need for the universities in Africa to understand the dynamics and need of the evolving modern African society and adjust its curriculum, research priorities, and operations to meet the need of the labour market in the 21st century.

Project Aim

This research study seeks to articulate the relevance of university training to labour market demands with the view of informing both the productive sector and African higher education institutions on the kind of reforms that would best prepare the graduates for the labour market as well as assisting both industry and higher education institutions in establishing successful linkages between them for mutual benefits. The specific objectives of this study are to:

  • Identify the critical factors that make university training relevant to the productive sector and labour market in Africa;
  • Identify the factors militating against successful engagements of universities and industry in Africa;
  • Find out the opportunities that exist between universities and the productive sectors for partnerships and collaborations;
  • Ascertain the benefits derived from strengthened linkages between universities and industries in Africa; and
  • Identify the reforms required for efficient and sustainable linkages between universities and industries in Africa.


An in-depth literature review and syntheses on the relevance of university training to labour market demands will be conducted. Secondly, an online survey and e-forum dialogue will also be conducted with relevant stakeholders across Africa. Respondents will be drawn from the membership lists of the ATPS, Association for Development of Education in Africa- Working Group on Higher Education (ADEA-WGHE) and Association of African Universities (AAU). These membership lists are comprised of the academia, private sector actors, policymakers, and the civil society actors. 

Expected Outputs:

A comprehensive report on how to improve the relevance of university training to the labour market demands in Africa will be produced. The report is expected to identify the factors that make university training relevant to the productive sector and labour market demands in Africa; identify the strategies for effective linkages and collaborations between African universities and industries as an effective way to solve some of the challenges facing African universities. The report will emphasize the role of governments in facilitating and enhancing university-industry linkage in Africa. Furthermore, the report will identify some reforms necessary to enhance relevance of university education to labour market in Africa among others. 

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