NetHope academy equips IT graduates with workplace skills
Posted Wednesday, June 13 2012 at 18:07
How can institutions and employers harmonise the IT skills of graduates and the needs of the job market?
That is the question that a group of institutions, IT products manufacturers and other organisations are seeking to answer through a new initiative known as NetHope.
International NGOs have partnered with leading IT firms to offer a six-month training through NetHope Academy that gives computer science students both classroom and on-the-job IT skills training.
The programme is aimed at aligning what students learn while in colleges with the job market demands.
The disconnect between training and market needs remains a major challenge in the IT sector, forcing telecommunications firms such as Safaricom, LG electronics and Samsung to either resort to inhouse training or start academies to bridge the gap.
It also comes at a time when there are a high demand for IT professionals in the country; however employment opportunities are often limited to those who have work experience.
NetHope Academy recruits candidates for training, develops a curriculum and funds the programme. Its partners include the Kenya ICT Board, Accenture and the Accenture Foundation, Microsoft, Cisco, ESRI, Global VSAT Forum. It also helps the graduates get into internships in different organisations.
“We do a broad outreach through local universities and try to reach recent college graduates and soon to be graduates, most will have degrees in computer science or near equivalents,” said Frank Schott, the , director of NetHope Academy.
“Many can’t get jobs because when they go to apply for a job, they are told: ‘We are looking for people with work experience’.
The challenge of course is how do you ever get that first job if every job requires work experience?”
The training started in March with the first students expected to graduate in September. Other than Kenya, the programme is available to students in Rwanda and South Africa.
Applicants are selected based on their performance during interviews and aptitude tests. NetHope Academy provides training and certification in the most relevant technical skills, supplemented with practical on-the-job experience and daily mentorships and guidance.
Graduates of the programme are expected to be fully competent in the current IT sector and highly employable.
“According to a 2011 National ICT Market Survey, although an estimated 9,600 ICT graduates are absorbed in to the market annually, a third of the companies still contract external providers due to lack of relevant high-end skills and work experience in our workforce,” said Eunice Kariuki, marketing director for the Kenya ICT Board.
“It’s only when these gaps are addressed that we will be able to achieve Vision 2030.” After the six months programme, the participants get jobs at internet service providers (ISPs,) telecom firms, NGOs, and or form their consultancy firms.
In March 2012, 36 students joined NetHope Academy in Nairobi with two weeks of intensive classroom and online training .
The students then began their internships, where they’ll gain nearly six months of on-the-job experience that will allow them to refine the skills they learned in the classroom.
In addition to the Nairobi class, 36 other students in Kigali, Rwanda also began their NetHope Academy programme in March. Nearly 700 students applied for a total of 72 coveted spots between the two programmes.
Two-thirds of the students in the Nairobi class are female, who NetHope believes will play a crucial role in growing the ICT sector in Kenya.