Pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across the continent thereby creating greater need for technical skills
BY VICTOR ADAR
Have you ever tried to do little things in digital sense but failed miserably? You are not alone, more and more individuals, corporate organizations and even governments find themselves in such a scenario. But the future is bright. You can now create opportunities by embracing virtual delivery of services.
It is at the back of this that the Young Professional Program, SAP’s flagship digital skills build initiative was launched. The program has welcomed the graduation of 27 SAP associate consultants in East Africa following their successful completion of an all-virtual training program.
Candidates from Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as those in Uganda and Tanzania were given first priority to receive training and certification as part of the program. Cathy Smith, managing director, SAP Africa, says the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across the continent thereby creating greater need for digital skills.
“Organisations across the continent continue
to adapt to a world reshaped by the pandemic, fast-tracking their digital
transformation journeys in an effort to maintain business productivity and
drive innovation. It is vital to us that our customers and partners have access
to the depth of SAP skills they need to thrive. This latest cohort of graduates
will play an important role supporting organisations across the East African
region,” says Smith.
By hosting all training in a multi-country, all-virtual environment, the SAP Young Professional Program is playing a role by helping foster greater cross-cultural collaboration between candidates that would normally not have the opportunity to work together. Eva Sang, a graduate who hails from Kenya, says that the collaboration and sharing of ideas across boundaries enriches the learning experience.
“We gained valuable insights about each
other’s countries and culture. It also enabled us to create strong professional
and personal networks in the region, that would come in handy during
international assignments,” says Ms Sang.
For Estifanos Alemseged, a graduate from Ethiopia, the program given its thorough process, was an empowering experience.
“Applying for the program was one of the best
decisions I made in my life. It has given me a ticket to land and explore an
outstanding career path. At this moment I’m confident and excited to contribute
to the digital transformation of my country and region,” says Alemseged.
Ugandan graduate Natasha Nkurunziza says that the program helped her discover her capabilities. “I loved both the Business Process Integration course and SAP Activate Manager because it gave me an overview of what SAP S/4 HANA entails and how to deliver projects with SAP Best Practices, thus giving me a chance to figure out what I would like to major in from an informed point of view,” she says.
With renewed focus on regional and pan-African cooperation through initiatives such as the newly launched Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement and the East Africa Community, African countries and their citizens have the opportunity to collaborate like never before.
Perhaps what stakeholders like governments, non-government organizations and private sector players should take home is; digital transformation is here to stay, and better days ahead can only be expected if they get it right from the word go. How many graduates acquired the required technical skills? Can the skills inform future interventions?
The good news is that, since its inception in 2012, the SAP Young Professional Program, an initiative under SAP Skills for Africa, has trained more than 3150 talents across 31 countries, including more than 1390 in Africa. But philosophy of digital transformation is biased on skills instead of theory. That is why more needs to be done. As an example, the two to three-month program covers SAP software technical and functional knowledge and certification, with a key focus on the latest innovations.
“Soft and future skills trainings ensure graduates can make an immediate impact in the organisations they work for after graduation,” says Marita Mitschein, managing director of the SAP Training and Development Institute and senior vice president of digital skills at SAP Southern Europe, Africa and Middle East.
The cohort in East Africa is part of a collaboration between SAP and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH with the aim to jointly create 450 jobs for highly-qualified personnel in the IT sector in ten African countries over the course of three years. The cooperation project is supported by the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation, which operates under the brand Invest for Jobs, and the develoPPP.de program that GIZ implements on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).