By 2030, Africa's potential workforce will be amongst the world's largest which, paired with the infrastructure, skills for innovation, and technology use necessary for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), presents a massive opportunity for growth. The 4IR is changing labour and production systems, requiring job seekers to have the skills and competencies necessary to adapt to African firms' changing needs, including the need for greater automation.
ITTHYNK of Johannesburg, South Africa, and Apps and Girls of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, teamed up to roll out an innovative skills development programme focused on young women's Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Entrepreneurship skills. ICT is growing in Africa, and has generated more than 1.7 million direct jobs, both formal and informal, but women remain marginalised in this space. The ITTHYNK Tech Academy is an 18-month programme that ensures students (including women) obtain Microsoft certifications as well as on-the-job and entrepreneurship training.
Apps and Girls and ITTHYNK recruited 15 unemployed ICT graduates each, resulting in a cohort of 30 students based in South Africa and Tanzania. The programmes partnered with Microsoft Interns 4 Afrika for the training. The Tanzanian cohort received additional training and support from Microsoft trainers based in South Africa. Microsoft provided exam vouchers for all the students and delivered the training remotely when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in restricted travel.
The ITTHYNK Tech Academy curriculum comprises 80% Microsoft technologies and 20% entrepreneurship training using the Business Model Canvas. This structure allowed students who passed the exams to attain a Microsoft Certified Professional qualification. It also enabled those interested in starting their own business to start thinking about market problems and solutions.
Thirteen students passed their exam and are now Microsoft Certified. Five students developed prototypes and sought customers that paid them for their solutions. A team of students were tasked to work with an ITTHYNK client and successfully developed an Agritech solution.
The support from SAIS 2 enabled ITTHYNK Tech Academy to validate its potential contribution to productive economic growth. The next steps are to scale to the continent at large to influence inclusive, sustainable, and efficient economic growth channels. The ITTHYNK Tech Academy has attracted interest from Multichoice and other partners, who aim to build and strengthen it further. As it grows, ITTHYNK Tech Academy will include non-ICT graduates or individuals without any university qualifications who have the same potential and ability to learn ICT as ICT graduates do.
Two graduates from the ITTHYNK Tech Academy share their experience from the programme:
Thabang Mogobe (31 years)
When I joined the ITTHYNK Tech Academy programme in 2019, I realised that there are many software development programmes out there, but not many that can help one develop character simultaneously, both personally and professionally. The well-rounded nature of this programme is what stood out for me. The people I met throughout this journey significantly impacted my life and contributed to my career development.
ITTHYNK Tech Academy taught me that I should not be rigid in the choices I make career-wise and in my quest to acquire expertise. Flexibility is a trait I needed to develop to succeed in any journey I choose. I learnt that my peers are my teachers, so I have learnt to appreciate them more. I also learnt that teamwork is a huge part of achieving success.
During the programme, we spent a week at Microsoft learning about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. ITTHYNK Tech Academy seeks to educate ICT graduates about technologies that the market demands, but that schools do not teach. The programme introduced me to Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics CRM software. I learnt about these programmes and got an opportunity to write the internationally recognised Microsoft exams. I am now a certified Microsoft Professional. I was able to apply my SharePoint knowledge for an ITTHYNK client for three months.
My experience with the ITTHYNK Tech Academy over the past 12 months has been nothing short of amazing. As a result of the programme, I was able to secure a job with ITTHYNK as a junior business analyst, and I am very grateful for this opportunity.
Esther Muheleji (25 years)
As a young graduate and tech enthusiast, the ITTHYNK Tech Academy programme was an excellent opportunity for me to gain insights into technology. I joined the programme because I am eager to learn new things – I also had a gap year after completing my studies. I gained knowledge on technological aspects such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and web development through the programme. This programme has given me a chance to improve my current skills and add new skills such as entrepreneurship and soft skills to my resume. I want to learn more about programming languages.
I enjoyed the programme’s mentoring and tracking of our progress throughout. My peers were also a great inspiration, and we helped each other in areas we did not understand.
Through this programme, my conception of what my career would look like has changed and expanded. Entrepreneurship training has created a base of knowledge that I can use to start my own business. It also aided me in improving my business management skills. I have a mobile salon that does manicures and pedicures for clients, called E-Star Nails Bar. So far, I have 10 regular customers. This programme has taught me how to grow my income, and I hope to use my tech skills to build my customer base and grow the business.