This piece provides a summary of four articles contributing to the debate on employment, skills and industrialization in Africa. - ‘In search of structural transformation: ‘Made in Africa’ and industries without smokestacks’ tackles the issue of weak job creation in productive economic sectors. - ‘Advancing Africa’s Capabilities' calls for strengthening educational quality and minimising inequality to avoid unintended losers from digital developments. - ‘Small is beautiful‘ shows the continued importance of formal and informal small economic units (SEUs) in providing jobs and skills to African people and shaping economic transitions. - ‘Will the future of work create two speeds in Africa?’ presents how the future of work in most African countries will likely differ from that of more advanced economies.