Microsoft partners with African Development Bank to upskill 50 million youth and create 25 million jobs in Africa


By: Ghada Khalifa, Director of Microsoft Philanthropies Middle East and Africa

Microsoft, in partnership with the African Development Bank (ADB), will launch the Coding for Employment programme at the African Innovation Summit, which takes place in Kigali, Rwanda on 6 June 2018. This new programme will prepare African youth for tomorrow’s jobs while unleashing the next generation of African digital innovators.

By 2025, ADB’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Initiative, of which the Coding for Employment programme is a key part, will upskill 50 million youth and create 25 million jobs in agriculture, Information Communications and Technology (ICT) and other key industries across Africa.

The Coding for Employment programme will be launching in Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal. Its main goal is to ensure that digital skills are not only accessible to young people, but also aims to support them with securing meaningful employment opportunities. In addition, the programme will establish 130 Centres of Excellence across Africa as a means to help bridge the skills gap.

The world is experiencing unprecedented socio-economic transformation as it moves towards the fourth industrial revolution. Technology is infused into every job and across every employment sector. But the pace of change and new skills requirements are pushing some of these exciting opportunities out of reach for many people in Africa. This is especially true for people with limited educational opportunities and populations who have been historically underserved and underrepresented.

We know that digital innovations have the power to solve some of the continent’s biggest and most pressing developmental challenges while generating new job opportunities. However, with the youth population in Africa growing so rapidly, the digital divide continues to widen. There is a critical skills gap on the continent that is posing challenges to youth looking for meaningful employment in a rapidly changing workforce.

Therefore, the defining challenge of our time is ensuring that everyone is included in the benefits that technology can bring. This requires that we change the way we educate young people, adapt the way we train our current and future workforce, and transform the way we look at our labour market, in order to ensure that everyone is included. This is a massive undertaking that requires the cooperation of every stakeholder including educators, employers, policy makers and workers.

The collaboration between Microsoft and the ADB will do just that by equipping youth across Africa with the skills needed to secure ICT, ICT-enabled, and ICT services employment.

Microsoft will provide locally relevant curricula that is adapted according to each country’s specific needs and context. We will focus on providing basic to intermediate digital skills training as well as soft and employability skills. To do this sustainably, we will be training university staff members, as well as youth and community volunteers on digital skills at training sessions that will take place at selected universities and Centres of Excellence across the region.

Over the last three years, the Microsoft Philanthropies Digital Skills programme has upskilled 2.6 million underserved youth in Africa, generated over 50,000 employment and 2,680 internship opportunities, while enabling over 2,000 aspiring entrepreneurs to establish their own businesses.

Our investments have helped build the skills of the future, increase employability and drive entrepreneurship. We are driven to support Africans becoming leaders and innovators of locally and globally relevant technology solutions.

We believe in a future where every young person has the skills, knowledge and opportunities to succeed. Together with our partners like ADB we’re already making great progress. This partnership will continue to focus on increasing the participation of underserved youth and women while equipping youth across Africa with the skills needed to fill jobs now and in the future.

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