Nairobi, Kenya, September 2020 Technology will lie at the core of the jobs of the future and as the world becomes more digitalised, so too must Africa. A recent IFC report notes that 230 million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030, therefore the continent requires an injection of digital skills.
It’s no secret that closing the skills gap is an absolute imperative if we are to keep up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). There is currently a significant skills gap in Africa with employers across the region identifying an inadequately skilled workforce as a restriction on business growth, including 41% of all firms in Tanzania, 30% in Kenya, 9% in South Africa, and 6% in Nigeria, according to WEF.
What’s even more important in Africa, given the youth bulge and widening skills gap, is ensuring workplace readiness for our young graduates who are finding that their degree doesn’t quite fit the requirements of 4IR and the digital economy.
With the youngest workforce on the planet, Africa needs to have access to workers that don’t just have the right certifications behind them – they need to be ready for the modern world of work professionally. On top of the technical skills required, it’s necessary to prioritise the soft skills that help people thrive in formal employment – 4IR-type skillsets such as negotiation skills, complex problem-solving, project management and people management, along with productivity and mental wellbeing tools.
To address these challenges and uplift our talented youth, Microsoft, through its 4Afrika initiative, launched a pilot programme in Kenya to train and certify graduates and interns new to the workforce, with the aim of getting these students Microsoft Certified. Students were chosen from a number of organisations, including the Kenyan Ministry of ICT, three of Kenya’s top coding schools, Moringa, Modcom and CodeLn, from Andela and Cloud Factory.
4Afrika enlisted the services of LGIT Smart Solutions as our learning partner to manage this training programme, student interactions and deliver training to the students. LGIT managed access to the cloud platform, issued exam vouchers, provided exam readiness sessions and gave the students access to their proprietary learning management content and readiness system.
The programme started in December 2019 with in-person events, but as the Covid-19 pandemic affected the continent, this rapidly shifted to a Virtual Instructor-led Training (VILT) approach. The end result is a cohort of more than 800 Kenyan students trained on Microsoft technology, and importantly, also provided with comprehensive soft skills readiness content and access to free certification vouchers for Microsoft technology exams.
The programme achieved a certification rate of around 40 percent of the students. The training and certification camps also targeted a set of almost 200 trainers, who will redeliver the certification training to an additional 1,500 students by September 2020. “The programme has prepared me to venture into the world of cloud. From here, I plan to invest in my career towards cloud computing and maybe be an evangelist in the future,” says Maurice Oduor, a participant in the programme.
“I am really impressed with the course content and the skills gained so far. I will use the skills gained to come up with business innovations and further my cloud skills. The course is organised in an easy to understand format and very rich in content, the mentors were readily available and this motivated us to continue with the programme,” comments participant Hezbon Oduol.
“LGIT’s expertise in running VILT sessions and supporting the students through the training itself, as well as the follow-up certification process support, has been invaluable in ensuring we were able to successfully meet our graduate skilling aspirations in Kenya,” says Martin Ndlovu, Head of Skills Development, Microsoft 4Afrika.
“Ultimately, we hope to roll it out to other markets at scale. This is a pilot project, but with tangible results for the people involved in the programme,” he adds.