Microsoft, USIU partner to set up tech hub to plug job skills gap


Microsoft Dean for Africa Academy Lutz Ziob, USIU's Prof Ruthie Rono and Centurion Systems managing director Dr Kevit Desai cut a ribbon during the launch of Incubation and Innovation Center AppFactory at the university on February 7, 2018. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

Technology firm Microsoft has partnered with the United States International University-Afric, USIU, for its first technical skills hub in Kenya.

The hub dubbed the Appfactory will be hosted at USIU’s incubation and innovation centre (I²C) in Nairobi, aimed at addressing the gap in between education and the skills needed for employment.

“Despite the hundreds of students graduating in ICT, Information and technology companies are finding it difficult to recruit graduates who are ready to contribute as software developers without first taking them through extensive on-the-job training,” said Prof Paul Zaleza, Vice chancellor USIU-Africa.

The I²C Appfactory will be the 14th in the continent in partnership with Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative with others currently hosted in Nigeria Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda, Mauritius, Malawi and Ethiopia.

Hands-on approach

The word App in the programme stands for apprentice rather than application, as the initiative is aimed at providing a hands-on approach to learning in turn developing skills needed for the fast-paced technology and innovation segment.

In 2017, the Africa Appfactories graduated a total of 500 students into the job market, with 85 per cent securing employment and the rest venturing into entrepreneurship.

At the end of the programme, graduates have access to jobs from the Microsoft Partner Network.

Technical skill initiatives have become a popular model for creating skilled employment opportunities into the job market with programmes such as this and the Presidential Digital talent programme by the ICT ministry in Kenya.

They are aimed at bridging the gap between the curriculum and the industry needs.