Microsoft among partners sealing Africa youth digital skills gap
Microsoft has joined other partners in the Coding for Employment program – an initiative seeking to bridge the digital skills divide among the youth in Africa. Under the program by African Development Bank (ADB), the youth will be equipped with demand-driven Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills that match demands of potential ICT employers. Other partners taking part in the initiative that was unveiled at the African Innovation Summit in Kigali, Rwanda include The Rockefeller Foundation and Facebook.
The ADB reckons the world is moving towards a fourth industrial revolution where demand for digitization across health, education and other sectors is set to rise. The Bank notes that digital innovations not only hold the key to solving the development challenges in Africa, but also the potential to generate new job opportunities.
“The youth population is rapidly growing and by 2050, is expected to double to over 830 million. Yet, the digital divide in Africa persists and critical skills gaps pose serious challenges to youth securing quality and decent work in a rapidly changing workforce,” says ADB
Coding for Employment program hopes to bridge digital skills divide
The Coding for Employment program targets to create over 9 million jobs and reach 32 million youth and women across Africa. The initiative is set for roll out in Senegal, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Rwanda which will see establishment of 130 centers of excellence. Partners under the Coding for Employment program have committed to help bridge the skills gap in order to accelerate development and maximize job creation among the youth.
Microsoft will provide locally relevant curricula that adapts to each country’s specific needs and context. The focus will be on providing basic to intermediate digital skills training, as well as soft and employability skills. In efforts to do this sustainably, Microsoft will identify partners capable of training university staff, as well as youth and community volunteers on digital skills in select universities and Centers of Excellence across the continent. The trainers will also be supported to become tech entrepreneurs who develop new locally-relevant products and services.
Microsoft’s Director of Philanthropies for the Middle East and Africa, Ghada Khalifa, says even though digital skills are essential for the jobs of today and tomorrow, they are beyond the reach of too many young Africans.
“Together with our partners like the African Development Bank, we are working to change that. The partnership between Microsoft and the African Development Bank 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,” she said.
Under the Coding for Employment initiative, Microsoft will register the graduates on a web portal for monitoring and evaluation, as well as an employment portal where they can be matched with relevant job openings. Graduates will receive certification following their successful completion of the curriculum.
Microsoft Bridging the Digital Skills Gap with 4Afrika initiatives
Over the past few years, Microsoft has played an active role in bridging the digital skill gap as is demonstrated with introduction of the 4Afrika initiative.
A key focus under the 4Afrika initiative is developing skilled workforces in the continent and investing in local technology solutions. Currently Microsoft says over the last three years through its Philanthropies Digital Skills program it has upskilled 2.6 million underserved youth in Africa. It has also generated over 50,000 employment and 2,680 internship opportunities, while enabling over 2,000 aspiring entrepreneurs to establish their own businesses. Thus touching the lives of over 8 million youths in Africa. On its skills bridging initiative across the continent, Microsoft currently has 16 AppFactories across Africa. Microsoft 4Afrika Academy dean, Lutz Ziob shared why it’s critical to bridge this gap.
📷: AIS | ADB