UK-Kenya Tech Hub’s Digital Apprenticeship Programme
COVID-19 has accelerated the need for SMEs to digitise their business models, however many do not know how to start. Young Kenyans are technically able to support this shift, having gained skills through formal education or being self-taught, but lack the necessary work experience.
The UK-Kenya Tech Hub partnered with EldoHub – a local tech innovation company – and Thunderbird School of Global Management to launch the Digital Apprenticeship Programme. It was designed to provide junior tech professionals (JTPs) with practical work experience and training, whilst demonstrating to businesses the importance of digitisation and subsequent need to hire tech talent.
The Digital Apprenticeship Programme placed 40 JTPs in host businesses for 3 month placements, during which they worked on specific digital projects identified by the businesses. Participants received one-to-one mentoring from experienced professionals in the tech industry, alongside soft skills training on communication and leadership.
543 applications were received from across 40 of the 47 counties in Kenya, with 137 of these from women. 89 businesses expressed interest, with identified digital projects including app development and digital marketing amongst others. Following online tests, assessments and interviews, the top 40 applicants were selected to participate. The main digital skills that businesses were looking for were software development, digital marketing, and data analysis.
At the conclusion of the pilot programme, 50% of JTPs had secured further employment – either permanently hired by their host business, securing work elsewhere, or starting consultancy work and/or their own business.
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 COVID-19. The Pandemic has accelerated the digital revolution which makes this initiative a timely intervention to ensure businesses recover faster and remain relevant, while offering real experience to the Junior Tech Professionals
Philip Thigo, Director for Africa at Thunderbird School of Global Management
Tech Hub leadership
The UK-Kenya Tech Hub, together with FCDO Africa Technology and Innovation Partnership (ATIP), provided funding and technical advisory support to the consortium, and stipends for the JTPs.
Through this partnership, the Hub is addressing both supply and demand issues surrounding digital skills and entrepreneurship. Specific digital projects based on business need were identified at the outset, allowing a tailored JTP match. Each JTP gained real business experience and a completed project to add to their portfolio, and each business solved a critical issue, resulting in increased revenues, decreased costs, or improved efficiencies. As many SMEs do not have the necessary resources to mentor junior employees, this programme also meets that need by matching each participant with a corporate mentor &’tech buddy&’ alongside soft skills training.
Looking to the future
Kenya has a rapidly growing youth population (75% of Kenyans under 35) who need decent employment, and businesses are feeling the impact of COVID-19 and needing to digitise – creating opportunities for win-win initiatives for business and talent. Innovative approaches addressing both issues, such as the Digital Apprenticeship Programme, must continue to be piloted, implemented and scaled.
For more information
Read local media coverage of the partnership:
Capital Business: How Eldohub Is Transforming Kenya&’s Tech Space
More about the Digital Apprenticeship Programme and the UK-Kenya Tech Hub
The UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is building a global network of Tech Hubs. The International Tech Hub Network aims to forge innovation partnerships between the UK and international tech sectors, stimulate local digital economies; and build high-end digital skills to drive sustainable jobs and growth.