Eldoret based Tech Hub EldoHub in partnership with and Thunderbird School of Global Management and with support from the UK Kenya Tech has launched Digital Apprenticeship Programme targeting tech professionals.
The programme is aimed at equipping young tech professionals with the necessary skills they need for the job market.
Eldohub Founder and Managing Director Magdaline Chepkemoi said the move is aimed at bridging the skills gap in the industry.
“Kenya is known as the Silicon Savannah for numerous reasons and what cements this reputation is her youthful, tech savvy population. Whilst this kind of talent can and should be propelling Kenya’s future, the reality is that many techies lack real work practical experience. On the other hand businesses that are hiring, want more experienced techies with at least a few years under their belt. How will these junior techies ever get hired without experience,” she said.
Chepkemoi added that Covid-19 pandemic has also increased demand for tech professionals as many traditional businesses have started experimenting with digital marketing and e-commerce.
The first phase of the project will place 40 Junior Technology Professionals (JTPs) into 40 businesses (traditionally SMEs and tech startups/scale-ups) across Kenya for a three-month apprenticeship.
The programme was oversubscribed with over 500 junior tech professionals across 41 counties applying.
Eldohub narrowed their selection to 40 through a series of tests such as aptitude tests and code challenges as well as interviews.
“The final 40 include 17 females and 23 males ranging from universities such as University of Nairobi to technical colleges and training centers such as Moringa School and Akira Chix and self-taught courses such as digital marketing, including the latest tools and technologies,” explained Chepkemoi.
EldoHub and Thunderbird worked closely with the businesses to identify a specific project or deliverable that the JTPs would complete for the business.
The projects were extremely diverse and ranged from Fintech, Digital Marketing, and Internet of Things (IOT) to E-commerce.
Some of the professionals that were matched include Esther Mwaniki a Computer Scientist skilled in software development, majoring in android, and web application development, who was matched to Ajua Africa’s first Integrated Customer Experience company for businesses on the continent to write new code, maintain existing applications, and meet with clients to discuss new projects/features.
Victor Omondi, a Data Scientist skilled in software development, machine learning, data visualization, and creative thinking, statistics, problem-solving, and programming, was also matched to Inuka Africa a microcredit institution that has been on the digitization journey but the biggest challenge experienced is finding local talent in the area of data science and analytics and AI.
Victor will analyze client data, use AI to refine credit scoring, enable predictive lending and tighten credit controls for a better-quality loan portfolio.
Others include Michelle Nthumo a Back-End Developer skilled in Back-End development, who was matched to AFRIKAPU LTD a social-enterprise that sells African Handmade products.
The junior professionals were then matched to the 40 host businesses across 12 counties including Nairobi, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Bomet, Trans Nzoia, Kisumu, Mombasa, Kiambu, Kilifi, Meru, Narok and West Pokot.
“What really differentiates this programme is that the JTPs are given real work experience to deliver a specific project with support from Eldohub. In addition, they are provided with a stipend to cover their time and costs and access to Thunderbird Certificate programme in leadership, a two month online programme for emerging leaders in technology and those who influence without authority,” Chepkemoi noted.
In addition to the technical support and training, the JTPS have also been matched to mentors, junior to mid-level tech professionals working in the industry to be “tech buddies” that the JTPS can turn to navigate the soft skills element that include communication, working at an office/virtually and other issues that may arise.
The Tech Buddies have come from tech corporates and organisations across Kenya and include Liquid Telecom, Cisco, Huawei, Safaricom, Konza, Kenic, Visa and GSMA among others.
“I am extremely excited to support this project. Youth and SMEs are at the heart of Kenya and this project will give junior tech professionals the chance to gain industry experience whilst helping businesses realise the benefits of digitization. The mentorship and training component included in this programme is a real game-changer,” said Sheena Raikundalia, Director of the UK- Kenya Tech Hub.
On his part, Philip Thigo, Director for Africa at Thunderbird School of Global Management said “We are excited to be a part of this multi-stakeholder collaboration that makes available talent and skills of the future that are necessary for companies to build forward stronger beyond COVID19. The Pandemic has accelerated the digital revolution which makes this initiative a timely intervention to ensure businesses recovery faster and remain relevant, while offering real experience to the Junior Tech Professionals”.