A variety of multinational firms have partnered to launch the AfricaWorking intiative, which aims to support 200,000 youth and 50,000 entrepreneurs.
The partners on AfricaWorking include Barclays Africa, Emerging World, FranklinCovey, Knod, Microsoft, Safal Group and Syngenta, with the new association seeking to channel the collective power and voice of the private sector to make an impact on employability and entrepreneurship in Africa.
AfricaWorking will initially focus on Kenya and South Africa, but aims to work across the continent by 2020.
“Most large corporations are looking at youth skills development in one form or another, because it’s crucial to their business. The idea behind AfricaWorking is to bring these corporations together, align our efforts, share our learnings and build human capital on a pan-Africa scale,” said Lutz Ziob, dean of the Microsoft 4Afrika Academy.
Charles Reed, general manager for Community Investment for Barclays Africa, said by 2045 Africa’s labour market was projected to be the biggest in the world.
“There is a great opportunity for us to engage the youth, help them develop relevant skills and find meaningful employment opportunities. Key to this is for us to collaborate and leverage technology where it makes sense to do so,” he said.
The association will leverage existing approaches and two bespoke ‘engines’ to help get youth career- and business-ready, and create a pipeline of recruitable talent for member companies.
The initial platforms will leverage YouthWorks – a Microsoft entrepreneurship platform linking youth to training, mentors, small business support and access to finance – and an employability platform powered by Knod. AfricaWorking members will use this platform to create their talent pipeline and shape the skilled employees when and where they need them, through real world projects that form the basis of this learning model.
“There is currently a significant mismatch between the skills youth have and the skills employers are looking for. Our goal is to connect learners and employers in a unique 21st century experience based learning model, which develops skilled youth and an energised workforce of competent employees,” said Graham Doxey, chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of Knod.