Kenyan graduates studying Information Technology will now be able to undergo free high level SAP certification training thanks to a three year partnership between the Kenya ICT Board and leading enterprise application software provider SAP.
The training program dubbed â€œSAP Skills for Africaâ€ is aimed at improving the employability of university graduates.
The program will begin in January with the enrolment of 100 students who can start applying in October and Kenya ICT Board Program Manager for Business Process Outsourcing Andrew Lewela revealed that they will be in charge of the overall management of the programme and will provide classrooms with necessary computer infrastructure.
â€œIT spending will grow about 17 percent year on year, however IT employment will be less than 10 percent and this appears to be widening,â€ he said.
â€œThe plan is to create what we call an authentic examination to test for certified software developers. Many institutions have been focusing on the theoretical side of things and forgetting the actual testing of how to test software and make it secure,â€ he explained.
According to the Julisha Report, a national ICT Market survey taken in 2011 by the Kenya ICT Board, an estimated 9,600 professionals are added to the ICT market each year, but a third of the companyâ€™s surveyed plan to contract external providers because the present supply of skills do not meet business requirements in various ways, including the currency of the courses taught as well as the need for business specific training.
The Julisha report reveals that the ICT sector directly employs an estimated 27,000 professionals and that software development (70 percent growth) and project management (57 percent growth) are the most in-demand skills for the 2011-2013 periods and represent the areas with the widest skills gap.
The report went on to say that there is little visibility on the demand for specific skills, suggesting that greater and closer collaboration is needed between education institutions and businesses to determine the exact mix of skills needed in the market.
To address this issue, SAP Africa CEO Pfungwa Serima said that they will provide instructors, training material and educational systems and that they aim to train at least 500 students for free and get them employed within the next three years.
â€œThe SAP Skill for Africa programme aims at ensuring that each and every university graduate is equipped with the skills necessary to enter the job market and not only gain economic stability and prosperity, but also to be able to plough back into the ecosystem,â€ he said.
â€œSAP training will deliver valuable skills on software use, best business practices and processes that will greatly benefit the trainees and their future employers,â€ he explained.
Delivery of the programme will include the provision of certified instructors, training material and case studies with SAPâ€™s largest investment being the waiver of the Sh200,000 cost for the two month training.
Serima added that the programme builds upon the knowledge students gained in their undergraduate studies and provides them with hands on experience in working with the worldâ€™s leading business software applications company.
â€œModules of study for this period will be focused on best business practices and SAP skills in financial and managerial accounting, sales and distribution, procurement, human capital management, database and technology, system administration and also around business reporting,â€ he explained.
He emphasised that SAP is committed to ensure that upon graduating from the training, students will also receive a chance to put the acquired knowledge into practical use in a real work environment.
â€œSAP has started to work with its customers and partners to ensure the maximum number of internships for the graduates, which will further solidify their acquired knowledge,â€ he said.
Kenya ICT Board CEO Paul Kukubo revealed that the board has proposed the framework to launch a National ICT Academy and he said they plan to replicate the model across the other multinationals by leveraging their partnerships in the public and private sectors to finance the initiative.
â€œWeâ€™ve leveraged our connections and our influence in both the private and public sectors,â€ he said.
â€œIn the public sector weâ€™ve talked to Multimedia University and other institutions to be able to provide room and board for students when theyâ€™re being trained and weâ€™re trying to target disadvantaged students who wouldnâ€™t ordinarily be able to afford the training,â€ he noted.
Kukubo added that in the private sector, theyâ€™ve leveraged their partnerships with SAP and other partners to say â€œLook, this is the state of the country and this is what we need to doâ€.
In addition to the National ICT Academy, the Kenya ICT Board will be offering a new Software Developer Certification course dubbed â€œChipukaâ€ in April 2013 developed by Carnegie Mellon University.
Chipuka is a Swahili word meaning â€˜to emerge or to spring forthâ€™ and Kukubo said that the course will help employers identify software developers with the skills necessary to step into jobs immediately.
He noted that the final exam for the course will be tested on 30 volunteers drawn from KENET (Kenya Education Network) and feedback will aid the course developers in producing a more focused and productive exam.
The University of Nairobi and Inoorero University have been identified as likely institutions to host the pre-pilot exam, with plans to include other facilities in the future
The course will be open to software developers, software engineering and computer science students in any institution of higher learning as long as they have a working knowledge of one of the common programming languages.