A story of how an internship program changed a life. Microsoft 4Afrika’s Interns4Afrika initiative is providing a platform for Africans to develop and build skills.
The internship program offers young enthusiastic people an exciting experience with Microsoft and Microsoft partner organizations. You get to apply learnt knowledge, learn and develop new skill sets on the job. With this offer you work for 6 months on real projects and collaborate and learn from your colleagues as well.
Lutz Ziob, Dean of the Microsoft 4Afrika Academy shares on internship and why interns can be essential ingredients for companies undergoing digital transformation.
Photo : PC Tech Magazine
Six months ago, a young Kenyan named Gilbert Ngetich was living in Gataka, a slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. Unemployed, but with a deep passion for learning, Gilbert would study by himself in a men’s washroom, as it was the only accessible place with good light and an electrical socket.
Today, Gilbert has a full-time job as a Cloud Engineer at M2M Systems Limited, a partner of Microsoft. One of the first tasks in his role was to travel to the international Microsoft Inspire conference in Washington D.C, to learn, network and make new business contacts. It was the first time Gilbert had ever flown on an aeroplane.
When interns, like Gilbert, enter the Interns4Afrika program, many of them have never heard of cloud computing, data analytics or machine learning. But we have seen how interns, even if only a few weeks into the program, are being entrusted by their host organisations to take on responsibilities that are unheard of for an intern. Similarly, we find that our graduates become very employable in digital marketing or technical services roles.
Internships are a necessary piece of the puzzle – bridging the last-mile skills gap between job-seekers and employers. Internships give youth the on-the-job experience and workforce skills they need to shape their career, while employers can scout for the best talent, gain fresh perspectives and access to youth who grew up as digital natives.
For companies undergoing digital transformation, an internship program could in fact be one of the best investments they make. Interns are, by nature, hungry to learn, highly coachable and more than willing to adjust to changes and disruptions in your business. Because they are less bound by old experiences, they are more agile, which can mean accelerated transformation.
What caused this change? An internship program.
An interesting scenario in Africa
We face a perplexing and unsustainable scenario in Africa. On the one hand, we have high levels of youth unemployment. South Africa’s unemployment rate, for example, recently hit its highest level in 13 years. In the next 20 years, over 330 million young Africans are expected to enter the job market, but only a third of them will be able to find wage jobs.
On the other hand, we have companies struggling to find and hire the right talent to remain relevant and competitive in the digital transformation era. Like Gilbert, who before had never heard of a Cloud Engineer, the 2016 World Economic Forum Report on growing economies in Africa reports that 65% of schoolchildren today will work in jobs that don’t exist yet. It adds that only 1% of these children currently completing school will have the required digital skills.
Bridging this skills gap needs to begin at school level. To effectively tackle the youth unemployment problem, we need to provide youth with improved access to the internet, devices and curriculum aligned to future job prospects. We need to identify the very skills that will get them employed and then deploy efficient learning approaches that will help them acquire these skills that lead to exciting career opportunities.
A large number of multinational corporations, including Microsoft, have launched free online learning platforms, designed to upskill millions of young Africans. But online learning – although providing a fundamental base – is not enough.
Internship Programs and Digital transformation
As important as hard skills are, there is also a deficiency in workforce skills, including communication, collaboration, agility and leadership. As we navigate through the fourth industrial revolution of business, these skills are becoming increasingly vital. When we speak about digital transformation, we don’t only speak about organisations implementing technology advancements. We also speak about cultural changes. Technology enables more collaborative, productive and agile working environments – and youth need the skills, attitudes and professionalism to successfully navigate these.
Workforce skills are often best acquired in real-world working environments. What we need, therefore, is a blended learning methodology, combining online learning with real-world, hands-on experiences. Interns4Afrika is one of the programs that combines the appropriate what (i.e. skills and capabilities needed), with an effective how (i.e. results-driven learning and training methodologies).
As Arkadi Kuhlmann, founder and CEO of ING Direct USA, said in an interview: “If you want to renew and re-energise an industry, don’t hire people from that industry. You’ve got to untrain them and then retrain them. I’d rather hire a jazz musician or a dancer. They can learn about banking. It’s much harder for bankers to unlearn their bad habits.”
For this reason, the Harvard Business Review coined a new mantra: Hire for attitude. Train for skill.
There are employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for African youth. What they need is the ability to adapt.
With any internship program, it is important to support the onboarding process;
provide training in marketing, sales and digital/technology areas; develop general workplace productivity skills; and offer regular coaching support and peer-to-peer mentoring.
It may seem like a lot of work, but the investment more than often proves worthwhile. Of the 400 internships Microsoft 4Afrika has driven, 80% – 100% of these graduates (depending on the region) have gone on to secure full-time employment – often with their host organisations.
There are employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for African youth. What they need is the ability to adapt to the changing economic needs and master the digital and vocational skills necessary to succeed in evolving business environments.
Modern technology is changing the way we work, learn, communicate, collaborate and entertain ourselves. It is essential for our youth to understand this digital transformation and seize the new, exciting opportunities being created by it. Africa’s youth need to find ways of participating in the process, or better, become the driving forces behind it.
As Dean of the Microsoft 4Afrika Academy, Lutz Ziob’s job is to ensure that Microsoft 4Afrika delivers opportunities for Africans to create world class skills. This means providing world-class education services, both online and offline to help develop skills for improved employability, entrepreneurship and global competitiveness. The 4Afrika Academy will offer technical, business and leadership skills to students, government leaders and the broad Microsoft partner community in Africa.
Microsoft Ignite 2017 is here. Learn about Microsoft’s vision of where technology is headed with new tools for innovation through deep technical trainings and connect with the tech community. Learn + Empower + Connect = MSFT Ignite
The worlds largest conference focused on IT or as Julia White last said Innovation transformation takes place September 25-29. Hear from Satya Nadella, Josep Sirosh, Dona Sarkar, Julia White, Mark Russinovich and many more.
The role of the tech professional is changing fast.
Microsoft says “The role of the tech professional is changing fast. Microsoft Ignite is the place to access deep technical training, discover new tools for innovation and connect with the tech community. See where tech is headed—at Microsoft Ignite.”
The unified Microsoft enterprise technology conference brings education, vision and guidance to their enterprise solutions. They’ll talk about the next wave of products and services spanning cloud infrastructure, big data, productivity, mixed realities, operating systems, mobile computing devices, etc..
There’ll also be lots of sessions to dive into solutions and opportunities to speak with the experts working on them. “In addition to hundreds of sessions, technical training, hands-on labs and opportunities for certification, we’re making it a priority to give attendees direct access to hundreds of Microsoft engineers and executives. Our top gearheads and thought leaders will be there in force, ready to step down from the podium and get into the weeds with you.”
Watch Microsoft Ignite 2017 Day 1 Vision Keynote Livestream
Ignite is where you’ll come up with your next great idea, based on what you learn.
We will have news and updates coming though, during the event. To stay up to date with news on Microsoft Ignite 2017 follow and engage using the hashtag #MSIgnite.
We will have the livestream of the event right here on this page. So bookmark or save this page and come back 9am ET, 1pm UTC, 4pm EAT.
Don’t forget to subscribe, like and follow us for more and all stories happening in the Microsoft world.
Microsoft Tech Summit 2018 the premier event for It professionals and developers is coming to Cape Town, South Africa
Microsoft’s premier event for IT professionals and developers is coming to Cape Town, South Africa in 2018. The mostly technical learning event usually features more than 45 technical training sessions. Topics will range from Microsoft Azure, the hybrid platform including security, networking, data, storage, identity, mobile, cloud infrastructure, management, app platform, Office 365, Windows 10 and productivity.
Tech Summit is a free two day technical training event for IT professionals and developers with experts who build the cloud services across Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows 10. The event will take place February 13- 14th 2018. Registration is currently scheduled to start from November 15th 2017.
There’ll be opportunities to speak to the experts and receive hands on help. You’ll also have the opportunity to trial and test some of these solutions at the Hands-on Labs. There’ll also be various sessions to shop during the 2 day events.
Interested in attending Microsoft Tech Summit 2018 Cape Town? Save the date and register when it opens. Also follow Microsoft Tech Summit events on social platforms with the hashtag #MSTechSummit and #TechSummitSA . Tell us what you’ll be expecting and hoping to experience if you are headed there.
Mahala is a Microsoft education initiative that provides students with access to free Microsoft Office 365 and 1TB of OneDrive
Speaking at LEADEREX 2017 event, Microsoft South Africa MD spoke about many initiatives including Mahala.
Mahala is an education partnership between Microsoft South Africa and 2enable. The initiative seeks to offer all South African school learners from the ages of 8 and above free access to Microsoft Office across all their devices as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Microsoft South Africa says; with the platform, we have simplified the process for signing up for Office 365 for Education. We have extended the benefits that we supply. By using the Mahala.MS platform to register you will receive the following;
Install of Office 365 Pro Plus (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote & Outlook) across multiple different devices across all platforms (iOS, Android & Windows)
1TB of OneDrive storage
Office Online applications that work across all browsers (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote & Sway)
So what’s the difference between signing up via Microsoft Education and Mahala.ms? Microsoft SA says;
We’ve simplified the signup process to remove blockers such as lack of Academic email address. We have extended the benefits to include the installed version of Office instead of limiting to web access only.
How and what do you need to get started?
You must be a full or part-time student at an academic institution in South Africa, between the ages of 8 and 22. You will need the following information while signing up on the platform.
South African ID number (can be found on the birth certificate or ID book)
Private email address, used for correspondence of Mahala.MS log in details.
What will happen when the access expires? If you are still eligible, you can re-apply. But if it’s not your documents will still be available to view but not editable.
Visit the Mahala page and register for the offer. Are you in South Africa and excited about this? Tell us what you think in the comments.
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Check out other stories making the news in the technology ecosystem in Africa and the Middle East.
Is Microsoft leading the way for global Tech giants into Africa? It might appear so.
On the eve of the official launch of Windows 10 i remember seeing a rather strange tweet. This tweet was shared by Microsoft’s chief executive officer Satya Nadella. The tweet read “Arrived in Kenya to celebrate @Windows 10 launch with fans & learn how tech is #empowering Kenyan people & orgs”.
In as much as it was unbelievable , it was a very welcomed initiative.
There’s been so much noise about Africa on the rise, Africa the new growth market, the next tech bubble happening in Africa. There’s also been the rise in digital technology growth. It’s been said Africa will be the source for tech talent as tech drives growth. If any of that is true then of course familiarizing yourself and setting yourself up will be the way to go for these global giants.
“I’m here in Kenya and in Nairobi to listen and learn. I wanted to come (personally) to Kenya because I felt this was a place where I needed to be to learn.” – Satya Nadella
So 28th July 2015, Satya Nadella visits Kenya and helped students upgrade their PC’s as windows 10 got launched globally on the 29th. He also to joined a Windows 10 fans party later that evening, after spending the day visiting local start-ups. It seems years on he set the pace for a new era of visitation that was about to hit the continent. A year on 29th August Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg visits Nigeria and Kenya, 1st September 2016 to learn about mobile money, meet entrepreneurs and developers. This July, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was in Nigeria for the Google for Nigeria conference. In Rwanda and Kenya this year was Alibaba group chairman Jack Ma. The tech giants are coming and it’s only just started.
Satya Nadella celebrates Windows 10 in Kenya
Microsoft held it’s first ever major conference in Africa, NexTech Africa in February 2017. The event brought partners, stakeholders, technology leaders from Microsoft and across the continent together discussing what it means for technology to be innately African. Microsoft said we came to listen and learn, we aren’t here to impose or presume we know the terrain, (italics mine).
Google has also held it’s first major conference on African soil with Google for Nigeria event.
The Global Tech Giants are coming and it’s only just started.
Talking about infrastructure, IBM has two research facilities located in Nairobi, Kenya and Johannesburg, South Africa. Microsoft is bringing its cloud solutions closer, announcing two datacenters to be located in Johannesburg and Cape Town. A first in Africa, which has all sorts of benefits to it. We know the cloud is the future. This will encourage others like Amazon, Google, etc to invest infrastructure wise in Africa as well.
This year marks 4 years of Microsoft 4Afrika initiative. An initiative to develop affordable access, skills and innovation on the African continent.
Over this period the initiative has seen 15 TV white spaces connectivity projects launched. It’s said to have brought over 500,000 SMEs online and upskilled close to 800,000 people across the continent. About 82 local start-ups have received help to grow their enterprise.
The desire to empower every individual and organization to achieve more saw another initiative in Africa take off. This they did by starting the Windows Insider Fellowship program in Lagos, Nigeria, 2016. It continued with the announcement of the Windows Insiders East African fellowship at NexTech Africa. This will see about 45 ideas turned into social enterprises that’ll have impacts in their communities. At the Google for Nigeria conference, plans were announced to train 100,000 software developers and give grants to causes.
We will see many more investments and initiatives from the valley and global tech giants. Will it be as a recognition to the vast potential available in Africa? Microsoft sure is doing something right. Maybe they are leading the way for the gobal giants into Africa.
Do you share this same opinion? Are the giants coming in at all? Share your views with us. We’ll like to hear what you think.