Looking to improve employment opportunities for young Africans while fostering a consistent pipeline of Tech talent to meet current and future requirements of the continent, Africa’s leading retail bank, Access Bank PLC, has announced that it has upskilled 10,000 young Africans through the first two cohorts of its Advance Africa project.
Launched in 2021, in partnership with Udacity, Advance Africa is a 2-year mission set up to freely train 20,000 Africans who are interested in honing their skills in digital paths and achieving mastery. The program is designed for youths to learn and carry out innovative projects that offer solutions to real-world problems that will enable them to level up their skills, earn badges/nano-degrees and be ready for the future of work.
“We have identified that there is a scarcity of skilled digital capabilities in Africa. This, coupled with the increased local and international competition for available human resources, means that this skill gap has been widened even further. Hence, with Advance Africa, Access Bank aims to develop the next generation of doers who will challenge the status quo with their tenacity, curiosity, and ever-evolving imagination,” said Daniel Awe, Head of the Africa Fintech Foundry on the purpose of establishing the Advance Africa project.
“Through immersion in various IT/digital courses and first-hand learning from specialists, participants have been able to acquire practical knowledge, abilities, and experiences that will help them build a progressive career in financial technology,” he added.
Advance Africa has thus far impacted individuals in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Rwanda, Guinea, Zambia, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Cameroon, and Congo (DRC), thereby creating a pool of trained resources locally and in every country where Access Bank operates in. At the end of the project, Access Bank aims to retain 400 of the top performers, thereby helping to reduce unemployment across the continent.
The first two cohorts of the Advance Africa project received over 18,000 and 13,000 applications respectively, with 5,000 participants selected across each. Following the training exercises, a combined 549 individuals have been able to earn a foundation Nanodegree and a further 200 going on to earn an Advanced Nanodegree.
Speaking on the benefits of the training to her development, Cecilia Bassey, one of the beneficiaries of the Advance Africa project, said, “The program was a great opportunity for me to explore and discover my skills. While the training strengthened my analytical talents and time management skills, I also developed grit and resilience during the program. After the second phase ended, I was selected for the next phase which was the Internship program with Access Bank. I am indeed privileged to be an intern in the Fintech unit of Access bank which has widened my knowledge of the tech world. The Advance Africa program has exposed me to opportunities to kickstart a career in Product Design and I am eager to keep up-skilling and contributing to solving problems.”