Enterprise software firm VMWare has expanded the VMWare Academy: Virtualise Africa programme and confirmed an MOU established with Kenya's Strathmore University's @iLabAfrica centre.
The company and academic institution share the vision to empower the continent's fast-growing, young population to enter the digital workforce "with confidence and expertise", and thereby help to address the skills gap.
VMWare's objective is to engage key stakeholders across academia, government and industry to equip students with the technical skills and certifications they require to succeed in the digital economy.
In a statement released by VMWare, the company explains: "The African labour market is experiencing significant disruption due to fast-paced technological advances. With the emergence of new fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine-learning, Internet of Things (IOT) and cloud computing, business models have radically changed and so have the skill sets required by individuals to thrive in this new environment."
Via the partnership with VMWare, Strathmore University has begun integrating a range of VMWare developed courses into its curricula – these cover topics such as virtualisation, cloud computing, AI and IOT. This is facilitated through subsidised software licenses and certification vouchers from VMWare.
@iLabAfrica, a Centre of Excellence in Research and Innovation in Information Communication Technology at the University, is spearheading the rollout with 20 trainers and over 100 students at the University participating.
The students will be able to benefit from access to high-quality learning online resources, hands-on lab experiences to develop technical skills, and the opportunity to achieve industry-recognised VMware certification to complement their chosen fields of study.
Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University, "Our shared goal with VMware is to become the VMware IT Academy regional lead for East Africa, training lecturers and students from Strathmore and other universities plus facilitating their participation in the programme. Increased access to this type of education and training for students is a critical part of Africa realising the potential of its youth and a prosperous Africa."
Thomas MacKay, Senior Director for Global Strategic Programs, VMware, added: "Skills development is recognised as a key component for economic growth and prosperity. VMware IT Academy: Virtualise Africa helps educational institutions align curricula with the skills needed for the labour market, thereby building talent for Africa's jobs of today and tomorrow. Our discussions to form a strategic collaboration with Strathmore University is a significant milestone in this programme, and will bring new skills and opportunities to its students, and in the future to many more young people in East Africa."
VMWare acknowledges the difficulty that some academic institutions have in ensuring all graduates are able to secure a foothold in the job market.
Part of the problem is that students are required to have hands-on practical experience with specific platforms in order to secure employment.
Although there is no formal recruitment component to the Virtualise Africa programme, it does enable students to gain this practical experience.
VMWare has noted the growth of the cloud services market in Africa, particularly in regions like Kenya, and believes its experience and positioning as a cloud provider will help develop skills and make these available to the market.