To hold down a job these days, an employee needs one core essential trait: the right skillset.
The demand for the right mix of skills, however, goes a notch higher if you are eyeing lucrative career positions such as software development in global tech giants Microsoft, Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and similar others that are setting up shop in Kenya.
Eyeing Africa, several tech heavyweights made moves to scale their presence in Kenya in April. Microsoft opened one of two Africa Development Centre sites in Nairobi, declaring vacancies for at least 450 full-time employees.
At the same, Google started hiring over 100 employees for its upcoming Product Development Center in Nairobi, the US company’s first such centre across Africa. This came just weeks after global payments firm, Visa, launched its Innovation Hub, one of six in the world. Further, Amazon’s plans to launch an Amazon Web Services (AWS) local zone were unveiled.
“These companies are seeing Africa as the next frontier. In Kenya, we’re blessed with innovation catalysed by firms such as Safaricom, and Equity Bank in terms of mobile money… The other thing we have is a big, smart, and youthful population,” said Moringa School CEO Snehar Shah during an interview on the sidelines of a two-day global career fair in Nairobi seeking to pair students with potential employers in tech industry.
Moringa, a career accelerator for tech professionals in Africa, trains High School/university graduates to be software engineers and data scientists. Plans are underway to introduce UI/UX design course. The school was selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s “Technology Pioneers in 2021.”
The centre, which is also setting base in Ghana and Nigeria, also helps connect students with potential employers and prides itself on 85 percent successful job placement rate within six months post-graduation.
Moringa’s entry into Ghana and Nigeria is in line with recent funding by Proparcoon the back of another partnership with the Mastercard Foundation in 2020 to help train African youth.
Since its establishment six years ago, the tech centre, which has a campus on Ngong Road has equipped 4,000 students with market-aligned skills.
It’s not just big tech firms, and top banks that are offering jobs to Moringa School graduates, bank software development firm Eclectics, Craft Silicon, and taxi-hailing outfit, Little, are also in the race to hire the centre’s students.
“Little has committed to employing 20 of our graduates this year. Little started in ride-hailing, now they are doing food deliveries, and they are also getting into logistics,” said Mr Shah.
Other notable companies Moringa graduates have been placed in include I&M, Andela, Sanlam, Cybertek, and Dalberg Data Insights.
According to Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021, Kenya ranks fourth in Africa with over 58,800 expert software developers behind Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt.
“We run a very intensive boot camp model where we train them to be software developers or data scientists,” noted Mr Shah, adding that out of the 20 weeks (five months) programme, three weeks are dedicated to training on soft skills such as CV writing, job interview skills, communication skills, leadership skills, and project management skills.
Although we are based in Kenya, Mr Shah, who is a scale-up specialist adds that their ambition is to have a presence across Africa and also place graduating students into jobs globally. “Covid-19 brought along the concept of remote working and if you look at the tech field globally, everything is going digital.”
Companies in Kenya are being forced to improve their offers to employees to keep up with big tech. To attract and retain talent, firms are investing heavily in relevant training.
At the moment, Moringa is running Safaricom Digital Academy, an initiative that has seen about 300 staff from the telco shore up their skills.
To scale their offering, Moringa recently agreed to a curriculum licensing deal with the world’s leading coding boot camp, Flatiron School, to offer state-of-the-art software development courses.
“If a student has to do the same course (in the US), it will cost them $15,000 whereas you know we are doing the same course here in Kenya for a tenth of that or $1500,” explained Mr Shah.
As part of a long-term undertaking, Moringa is set to work closely with the Ministry of Education and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to drive the coding programme for pupils between six and 18 years of age.
KICD has approved coding to be part of mainstream syllabus for schools.
“This is quite a revolutionary move. The first company that was accredited to lead this course is e-learning platform Kodris Africa. Kodris will be running the courses with the schools but we (Moringa) shall go jointly to the schools to educate the children, especially at the secondary level where they are thinking about their careers. We will show them that there is a valid path to work in ICT,” explained Mr Shah.
If you are a student with access to a smartphone, you can learn how to code using the app we have with Kodris. You don’t really need a laptop, he added.
In Nakuru’s Keriko Secondary Schoolwhere 2019 Global Teacher Peter Tabichi teaches, Moringa has struck a partnership with the school to use their computer lab in a deal with the Mastercard Foundation to train young software developers.