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Graduates of the SAP Young Professionals Program are adding valuable digital skills capacity to African enterprises across the continent.

According to Cathy Smith, MD SAP Africa, since the launch of the program in 2012, the support provided by graduates brings critical digital skills to African businesses to help drive greater digitalisation and innovation across industries.

“African enterprises continue to grapple with widespread change and disruption brought by greater digitalisation and the impact of factors such as the pandemic. Having access to work-ready digital skills is essential to the success of every business on the continent.

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Initiatives such as SAP Skills for Africa and SAP Young Professionals Program continue to provide a welcome boost of digital skills to ensure African organisations meet their business and digital transformation objectives.”

Addressing youth unemployment, underemployment

SAP Skills for Africa is SAP’s skills development and job creation initiative aimed at tackling the most pressing issues of our time, including youth unemployment and underemployment, as well as closing the digital skills gap. The initiative is part of SAP’s global commitment to promoting education and entrepreneurship, with the SAP Young Professionals Program – a two- to three-month program that sees participants graduating as SAP Associate Consultants – and the SAP Dual Study Program – held in partnership with universities – both offered under the SAP Skills for Africa initiative.

Youth unemployment remains a major challenge for countries across sub-Saharan Africa, with the regional youth unemployment rate sitting at 14.5%. Africa also faces a significant digital skills gap, with demand for digital skills training expected to surge in the coming years.

For many of the graduates of the SAP Young Professionals Program, however, the two- to three-month enablement program has provided a welcome springboard to fulfilling careers in the exciting field of ICT.

YPP SAP Young Professionals Program graduates shine across Africa

Kenyan Daniel Oduri, who graduated as an Application Associate/SAP Associate Consultant for SAP Business One in 2017, gained hands-on experience at two different companies after graduating before joining Hashi Energy Limited. Here, he works as an in-house SAP Business One administrator, supporting the business across its operations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“It was a great privilege to receive training from such a high profile and esteemed organisation. The skills I obtained have greatly impacted and shaped my career path. I am where I am today because of the program,” says Oduri. “I believe my story will be a source of inspiration to many others.”

Marvin Lomo, a graduate from Ghana who completed the SAP Young Professionals Program in 2020, says although he was not a developer at the time he joined the program, he was encouraged by his trainers to upskill in the technical domain of SAP.

Boosting representation of women in tech

Enabling more women in Africa to join the tech industry remains a top priority. According to industry figures, female participation in the sub-Saharan Africa economy has reached 61%, but women still only constitute 30% of the tech labour force.

Inspiring more women to join the exciting world of ICT was a top consideration for Grace Githinji. The young Kenyan graduate completed the SAP Young Professionals Program in 2021 and is hoping to encourage more women to enter the tech field in Africa.

“The satisfaction of doing what I love and have a passion for while improving business processes through SAP’s cloud solutions is something I would like others to experience too,” says Githinji. “I also wish to offer the skills I’ve developed to add value to others and inspire others the way I’ve been inspired during the program.”

For Rose de Lima Koffi, being part of the SAP Young Professionals Program was a route to full-time employment in her home country of Côte d’Ivoire. The MBA graduate completed the SAP Young Professionals Program in 2021 and is now a project manager at Cashew Coast.

“I’m really grateful to have been part of the program. I developed new knowledge and really enjoyed the diversity of content in our sessions along with meeting likeminded people I now call friends. Most importantly, it was a route to finding a job I really enjoy in a company where I feel welcome.”

Smith is encouraged by the way the SAP Skills for Africa program is enabling a new generation of tech experts to make an impact at African enterprises. “By providing a mix of functional technical knowledge and soft and future skills development, the SAP Young Professionals Program is inspiring more of Africa’s talented youth to enter the impactful world of tech. Through close collaboration with our private sector partners, the program is also enabling employment opportunities for young graduates while ensuring organisations have access to the skills they need to implement their digital and business transformation projects.”

This advice paid off in a big way: Lomo currently has six SAP certifications and works as the lead Data Science Trainer at the German Institute of Business and Technology where he trains other learners in analytics and data science with the hope of improving their employability.

“I took this role primarily because of the impact the program had on me and, in my small way, I’d like to have a similar impact on other young graduates,” says Lomo. “Currently I am one of the very few certified ABAP developers in Ghana, largely thanks to the support of the SAP Young Professionals Program.”

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