“Skills Are the Currency of the 21st Century”
ACCRA, Ghana, January 29, 2019/ -- The Africa Internship Academy (AIA) is a successful youth employment accelerator in Ghana, that provides work readiness and entrepreneurship programs for secondary & higher education students as well as graduates to gain entrepreneurial and employability skills: after proceeds to assign mentors to them: and either connect them to employers looking for entry-level talents or incubate them to launch their idea through our AIA Business Starter Pack Program.
Its ideas and methods have won the Social Enterprise Award in 2017 as well as the recognition of the African Union as one of Africa’ best tools for youth development.
Africa holds a very high rate of youth unemployment. In Ghana, about 120,000 young people graduate from various institutions with about 10% getting employed after the first year of completion. Over 16% will never work in their lifetime, yet every year, thousands of job vacancies go unfilled. Employers have trouble finding people who are ‘ready for work.
“Youth unemployment in Ghana is basically not because there are no jobs in Ghana”, says Emmanuel Leslie Addae, co-founder of the Africa Internship Academy. “There is a mismatch between the jobs available in the country and the young people who are desperately searching for work. The gap is in creativity and innovation skills, poor social networks, limited resources to look for work, poor attitudes of graduates towards job opportunities, and unavailability of funding capital for entrepreneurship.”
Trainings, internships, mentorships as ideal tools to bridge gap between unemployment and employment in Africa.
To make change happen, Emmanuel and his co-founders decided to launch AIA in 2016, with a combination of work training, internships and mentorship. They decided to implement a program called Work Integrated Learning Program (WILP), a practical and effective way of providing relevant and progressive skills to young people. According to Emmanuel, the ultimate goal of the program was to make youths, especially to be work-ready. “The goal is to make them work-ready. We teach them about design thinking, emotional intelligence in the workplace, financial literacy skills, entrepreneurial skills, presentation/communication skills and organizational skills. The training is then complemented with internship placements in companies with active mentoring, offered by 50 companies and 150 experienced mentors.”
This was a golden combination, training, followed by internships and mentoring. According to Emmanuel, the results of the students they worked with have been remarkable. Out of the 195 fellows who have graduated from the program, over 32% have moved into self-employment, 28% are now full-time working staff in various corporate organizations, 11% are working part-time, 9% are volunteers, 15% are working on contract and 5% still in school. This is an incredible impact.
As a youth impact social enterprise, entrepreneurial and employable skills, are the perfect keys to unlock job opportunities in Africa, and as such, all their programs are tailored to shape and develop these skills in people.
In Emmanuel’s take, they usually give more attention to the 21st century skill-set. “There are several, such as communication skills, networking skills, research skills and team work skills. Teamwork forms an integral part of life. One must be taught how to integrate properly with people of different background and orientation. Interaction, collaboration, negotiation and compromise are some essentials of an excellent teamwork.” Emmanuel stresses that AIA programs also teach young people organizational skills, to properly plan tasks and to learn time management. “We also hope to spark creativity. We believe a creative mind triggers success and excellence.” He said.
Since the academy was founded, its programs have been very consistent in the years. According to Emmanuel, sponsorships are the main source of survival over the years. “Finding partners and sponsors have not been easy. The first partner we had for the AIA internship program was Ecobank, they agreed to host our fellows after the 4 weeks integrated learning program. As I speak to you we have about 50 organizations that host our fellows for additional one month internship at their various organizations. Apart of training young people, the other major task is to find partners who will fund as well as host the interns after the program. We leverage on our relationships with corporate companies to support the program. With regards to finding mentors, we normally do Mentors call, where we get people to volunteer to mentor fellows.”
In Africa, finding a job is not as easy as it may seem, irrespective of ones skills, abilities, or experience, they still are unable to find jobs, those who are fortunate enough to land one, are probable not a good fit for the job, hence the poor output of services. Emmanuel and his partner, again came out with an innovative and the easiest job search platform on the continent. Talentsinafrica, is currently on the rise in Africa, giving opportunities to many people to find their unique talents, skills, and abilities and find jobs that complements their skills perfectly.
“We observed that training and equipping people with skills was very good, but we needed an additional platform that could connect these people with active recruiters across Africa. We realized we could utilize our numerous contacts we have over the years got. Since we have direct contacts with active entry talent recruiters across Africa, we decided that, after training people, we will give them the opportunity to sign on a platform that could connect them directly to these recruiters in Africa. This was how TalentsinAfrica.com came about.”
“We launched the platform in Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Senegal and Cote D'ivoire. We believe that a workable solution in Ghana can easily work in other part of Africa since we share similar problems. It is our aim to have presence in every part of this continent, but we want to pilot it in these six countries first.”
The academy’s major plan this year is to set up an ‘Africa Youth Skills & Data Badge’ across the continent where young people will be required to undergo a particular training to get certification. This initiative sought to create a skillset mindset and attitude among higher education students in Africa. This is an important motto of AIA: Skills have become the global currency of the 21st century’!”