Microsoft4Afrika tasks on skills development to get Ethiopia digital

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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 to launch its first virtual Skills Lab in Ethiopia, according to Microsoft 4Afrika.

In a statement it sent to The Ethiopian Herald, 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 Future of Work report estimates that automation and Artificial Intelligence 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-skilled jobs, there is a need to up skill and reskill in order to stay competitive. This is particularly true in Africa where a skills gap persists.

According to a World Economic Forum survey, 87 percent of African business leaders are concerned about the availability of key skills with 45 percent noting extreme concern. Addressing the skills gap is critical to Africa’s future success. Through the Skills Lab programs, which develops the digital skills, coding capabilities and workplace readiness of young university graduates, Microsoft 4Afrika and its partners Gebeya and TechIn will provide apprenticeshipbased training to 200 African software engineers, where they will work with experienced software engineers over the course of up to six months.

Microsoft 4Afrikas Skills Lab programs help students to develop essential workplace skills and provide them with practical experiences, leveraging emerging technologies to develop innovative technology solutions. The Skills Lab will work with the students virtually to develop these skills. After graduating from the programs, apprentices have priority access to jobs through the Microsoft Partner Network. In addition, the skills gained from the program 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, Microsoft4Afrika. Through its skilling initiatives Microsoft aims to address these challenges by skilling and up skilling individuals to adequately seize these opportunities.

We are excited to be working with Microsoft to introduce this new version of the already previously successful Skills Lab program as it directly aligns with Gebeyas values of increasing employability, productivity, and producing the best of African talent, said Amadou Daffe, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Gebeya.

Apprentices of the programs will receive top-line training and mentoring as well as the market-relevant hands-on experience in project management needed to meet global standards. He added.

We have partnered with Microsoft in this initiative as it is a vital support mechanism in helping to bridge the skills gap and increase employ-ability rates for our talented young graduates. This Skills Lab 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. Skills Lab programs that were previously run in Ethiopia have proven successful. Microsoft 4Afrika had partnered with the Ethiopian Airlines Group, to train young Information Communication Technology graduates, equipping them with the skills needed to become Information and Communication Technology 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 Skills Lab, previously known as the App Factory 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 percent 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 Skills Labs across the continent, with an 85 percent employment rate achieved within three months of graduating. The initiative has been recognized by the International Finance Corporation as a best practice example of developing skills in sub-Saharan Africa.

This Skills Lab will focus on providing students with hands-on practice through 30 hours a week of training and mentoring on industry-based online courses and cloudbased 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 programs and gain world class certification,

In light of the economic, business and social changes that were 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 4Afrikas Abdella.

According to the statement, Microsoft 4Afrika Microsoft enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. The 4Afrika Initiative is Microsofts business and market development engine in Africa. The initiative has been recognized by the International Finance Corporation as a best practice example of developing skills in sub-Saharan Africa. And Gebeya Inc. is a Pan-African Ed Tech and online talent marketplace company headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The company focuses on cultivating the untapped potential of the African youth through its training programs to prepare them for the demands of the global job market.

The Ethiopian Herald May 31.2020

BY MEHARI BEYENE