Picking Up New Skills In New Ways
It is generally agreed that continued training and learning are paramount if you want to remain competitive and relevant in your career. But how you get that added education continues to evolve fast!
Indeed, disruption is the name of the game when it comes to the classroom in today’s world. And a number of African startups have been at the forefront of creating unconventional spaces of learning to train the continent’s underutilized talent pool.
As global companies move into Africa, and African companies grow more global, these innovative spaces of learning have become prime sources of talent for these companies.
Andela, for example, launched in 2014 to train African software developers and place them in jobs at some of the world’s top technology firms. Their goal was to help alleviate a global shortage of software developers. Today, their candidates work for firms like Mastercard Labs, Viacom, GitHub, and Gusto, and Andela has the backing of tech titans from Mark Zuckerberg to Steve Case.
“Employers always want two to three years of experience or they require knowledge of cutting-edge technologies that are not taught or they require experience building products on teams. But none of that experience is possible to get in academic environments,” Andela co-founder Christina Sass told Forbes. “In Africa we have a huge youth population with a foundation in computer science and engineering. We thought we could bridge that gap.”
Other companies like the African Leadership University (named one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies” in 2016) focuses on training the next set of African leaders; and the African Management Initiative (AMI) empowers African managers through practical and accessible learning and development tools. Each are working to fill the gaps in training to create a more skilled and informed African workforce.
But it can sometimes be difficult to get people to buy into these new training grounds. The Moringa School, for example, is a Nairobi-based coding accelerator which also uses a direct education-to-employment model to train some of the country’s growing group of developers. Their program pushes out world class developers within four months to work for companies like Safaricom, Cellulant and Barclays.
The Moringa School founder Audrey Cheng says that one of the biggest barriers she runs into is getting people to understand that they can gain education and skills outside the usual routes.
“It’s a different way of thinking about education and it will take time for people to understand it,” she told How I Made It In Africa in 2016. She adds that people need to understand that employers just want candidates who have the right skills to start working immediately.
“The thing is employers don’t actually care about certificates,” she says. “They are more concerned about the skills and knowledge.”