By Emma Okonji
Given the fact that technology is fast evolving and changing various narratives, Microsoft has stressed that the adoption of the right technology skills across African countries, including Nigeria, would help to secure the digital future of Africa, since technology is digitally driving the frontiers of global economy.
The Regional General Manager, Middle East and African Region at Microsoft, Ibrahim Youssry, who made the assertion in his latest report on ‘Africa and the Skilling Revolution’, said Microsoft had always believed that technology is a powerful force for good in a rapidly changing world.
“We have a responsibility to bring everyone into the digital economy, and this will only happen if the right skills are available to enable the digital future. We are committed to helping every person and organisation in the Middle East and Africa prepare for the digital revolution. “Microsoft is enabling a knowledge-based economy in the region by redefining education, empowering youth and closing the skills gap through a combination of partnerships, trainings, real-world experiences and online classrooms.”
Addressing how technology was rapidly changing job demand, Youssry said in his report that being home to one quarter of the world’s population, which is put at 1.86 billion, the Middle East and Africa could supply the next generation of this workforce, but questioned Africa’s readiness to fill these roles of the future.
According to him, “There’s a skills gap crisis and rising unemployment in Middle East and Africa (MEA). One third of the population are the youth, while 40 per cent of employers cite the skills shortage as a major constraint to company growth.
“Just 38 per cent of young professionals believe their education has prepared them for the workplace. Urgent efforts for closing the continent’s skills gap will be needed, and addressing these challenges at the very core level, is imperative.”
Youssry, who highlighted the workplace of the future in his report, however said it was not enough to be thinking of ways to fill the current skills gap, but that we must also rethink how we skill for future jobs that don’t even exist today.
“Nearly 75 per cent of students today will do jobs that do not currently exist. Skilling for future generations is about how we create professionals from all walks of life who will help deliver future innovations and drive business with Microsoft technology,” Youssry said.
His report, which also focused on youth, explained that efforts across MEA must be focused on youth population to ensure that technology can benefit all youth to become tomorrow’s leaders, adding that over the past three years, Microsoft has provided learning opportunities to 9.8 million African youth through strong partnerships and programmes.
“We work with non-profits, governments, educators and businesses to help organisations, school districts and educators in MEA build their capacity to offer computer science and digital skills training,” Youssry said.
He explained that since 2017, the Microsoft Digital Skills programme has upskilled 4.8 million underserved youth in Africa, rendering half-a-million youth employable and supporting the direct employment of over 27,000 youth, providing 2,680 internship opportunities, while enabling over 1,500 aspiring entrepreneurs to establish their own businesses.
“In Nigeria, the Technology for Social Change and Development Initiative provides digital skills training to half a million youth through a ‘train the trainer’ programme reaching 5,000 trainers from 10 states across the country, Youssry added in his report.