Third SkillsLab launches in Ethiopia.

Young female student smiles broadly as she completes another online assignment.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, – As part of its continued efforts to build digital skills capacity, employability, and close the skills gap on the African continent, Microsoft 4Afrika has partnered with Pan-African EdTech company and talent marketplace Gebeya Inc. and the Technology and Innovation Institute, Ethiopia (TechIn) to launch its first virtual SkillsLab in Ethiopia.

The lines between the physical and digital worlds are blurring while the job landscape undergoes huge changes through the creation of jobs that did not exist before.

In fact, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Work report estimates that automation and AI alone could displace 75 million jobs by 2022 while creating another 133 million new roles as companies rework the division of labour between humans and machines.

As new technologies drive the decline in low-skilledjobs, there is a need to upskill and reskill in order to stay competitive. This is particularly true in Africa where a skills gap persists. According to a WEF survey, 87% of African business leaders are concerned about the availability of key skills with 45% noting “extreme” concern. Addressing the skills gap is critical to Africa’s future success.

Through the SkillsLab programme, which develops the digital skills, coding capabilities and workplace readiness of young university graduates, Microsoft 4Afrika and its partners Gebeya and TechIn will provide apprenticeship-based training to 200 African software engineers, where they will work with experienced software engineers over the course of up to six months.

Microsoft 4Afrika’s SkillsLab programme helps students to develop essential workplace skills and provide them with practical experiences, leveraging emerging technologies to develop innovative technology solutions. The SkillsLab will work with the students virtually to develop these skills. After graduating from the programme, apprentices have priority access to jobs through the Microsoft Partner Network. In addition, the skills gained from the programme ensure that these graduates have the know-how to become successful entrepreneurs.

“Outpacing the rate of change driven by emerging technologies, there is a need for nimble and continued learning opportunities that can derive tangible benefits” says Amrote Abdella, Regional Director, Microsoft 4Afrika. “Through its skilling initiatives Microsoft aims to address these challenges by skilling and upskilling individuals to adequately seize these opportunities.”

“We are excited to be working with Microsoft to introduce this new version of the already previously successful SkillsLab programme as it directly aligns with Gebeya’s values of increasing employability, productivity, and producing the best of African talent,” says Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-Founder of Gebeya. “Apprentices of the programme will receive top-line training and mentoring as well as the market-relevant hands-on experience in project management needed to meet global standards.”

“We have partnered with Microsoft in this initiative as it is a vital support mechanism in helping to bridge the skills gap and increase employability rates for our talented young graduates. This SkillsLab will ensure career readiness for apprentices by providing them with not only DevOps and Data Science skills, but also critical thinking, collaboration and communication, and creative skills,” adds Sandokan Debebe, Director General of TechIn.

SkillsLab programmes that were previously run in Ethiopia have proven successful. Microsoft 4Afrika had partnered with the Ethiopian Airlines Group, to train young ICT graduates, equipping them with the skills needed to become ICT professionals and software engineers in the airline industry. After completing their apprenticeship, graduates could access jobs at Ethiopian Airlines and its affiliate airlines in Africa.

A second partnership with Tulane University Centre for Global Health Equity and Microsoft 4Afrika set up a SkillsLab (previously known as the AppFactory) to develop digital skills in healthcare at the Wollo University Kombolcha Institute of Technology. In January 2018, the first cohort of 21 apprentices graduated and 90% secured jobs as programmers, working for Wollo University and major hospitals across Addis Ababa.

In seven years, the 4Afrika initiative has produced 2,073 graduates from 19 SkillsLabs across the continent, with an 85% employment rate achieved within three months of graduating. The initiative has been recognised by the International Finance Corporation as a best practice example of developing skills in sub-Saharan Africa.

This SkillsLab will focus on providing students with hands-on practice through 30 hours a week of training and mentoring on industry-based online courses and cloud-based product knowledge where students will earn Microsoft certification. If you are a fresh or unemployed graduate, or even a final-year university student, who wants to participate in the programme and gain world class certification, you can apply here (

“In light of the economic, business and social changes that we’re seeing during the Covid-19 crisis, the need for skilling has never been higher. Africa has a unique opportunity to be a skills hub for the world and Ethiopia, with its large youth population can lead the way in enabling its youth to engage in the digital workforce,” adds Microsoft 4Afrika’s Abdella.

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