The Africa Internship Academy (AIA), a youth employment accelerator in Ghana, is planning an Africa Youth Skills and Data Badge programme. The AIA provides entrepreneurship and job readiness programs for the Ghanaian youth to give them entrepreneurial skills.
The AIA provides mentors for the participants. These mentors connect the interns to businesses which are looking for entry-level. That’s not all. The AIA also nurtures those with entrepreneurial ideas and help them to launch through their AIA Business Starter Pack Program.
The African Union recognises AIA’s ideas and methods as one of Africa’ best tools for youth development. The youth employment accelerator also won the Social Enterprise Award in 2017.
Emmanuel Leslie Addae, the co-founder of the Africa Internship Academy believes there’s a mismatch in creativity towards job opportunities.
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“Youth unemployment in Ghana is basically not because there are no jobs in Ghana. 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.”
In Ghana alone, about 120,000 people graduate with just about 10% getting employment after the first year of completion. Yet every year, a significant number of vacancies don’t get filled. This is because of the employers not finding people who are ready for the particular job description.
AIA’s 3 Pillars to bridge youth unemployment: training, internships, mentorships
Launched in 2016, the AIA combines internship, work training and mentorship to deliver the ideal solution for youth unemployment in the country. The organisation implemented the Work Integrated Learning Program (WILP). This is a practical and effective method to provide young people with relevant and progressive skills.
According to Emmanuel Addae, the co-founder, the program is a way to prep the youth 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.”
The combination of training, internship and mentoring has seen good results, according to the co-founder. According to Addae, out of the 195 fellows who from the program, over 32% have self-employment. 28% of them are full-time workers in various organizations, 11% are part-time workers, with 9% currently volunteering. The rest 15% and 5% are working on contract and still in school, respectively.
Addae stressed that 21st century skill-sets are given more credence in training the youth. Also, AIA equips participants with organisational skills to aid in properly planning tasks and proper time management.
“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….We also hope to spark creativity. We believe a creative mind triggers success and excellence.”
Sponsorship and Funding
Sponsorships, according to Addae, are the main source of survival of AIA 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.”
Since finding employment in Africa is difficult, Addae and his partners, have built an innovative job search platform, TalentsInAfrica. This platform offers the opportunity for people to find their unique skills, and find jobs that fit their skills.
“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.”
This year, AIA plans to establish the “Africa Youth Skills & Data Badge” program across Africa. The program will see young people go through particular trainings to gain certifications. This plan seeks to create a primarily skills mind-set and attitude among the youth in Africa, especially, higher education students.