Johannesburg — THE second Francophone Africa leg of the internationally-recognised skills development and job creation initiative by global enterprise application software firm, SAP, has started in Morocco. Kicking off with the student orientation in the central Ben Guerir, it emphasises a strong case for case for diversity as female participation strongly increases. To drive SAP Africa's vision for a diverse and inclusive workplace, female participation in the 2017 programme is more than 60 percent. The new-look 2017 iteration of the continent-wide initiative aims to once again train and certify young unemployed graduates in the world's most powerful SAP software suite of business systems and applications and place them in actual positions at partner organisations. The training schedule will take place over a three-month period and is sponsored by regional partners, including the OCP Foundation, the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and Universap, the hardware sponsor of the programme. The courses students go through incorporate essential business and soft skills training, with a formal SAP Academy accreditation resulting in internationally recognised associate SAP consultant certification. The programme is fully-sponsored with no cost to qualifying university graduates. Meena Confait, Head of Skills for Africa at SAP Africa, says the Francophone Africa leg of this year's initiative will see some key changes from the previous year. The first year of the Francophone Africa leg of Skills for Africa in 2015 celebrated the successful graduation of 39 students who all became certified SAP Associate consultants, securing placements with SAP's Moroccan partners and customers and even some joining the SAP Francophone team. This year, 65 beneficiaries will for the first time stay on-site at the University Mohammed VI Polytechnic, during the training schedule. SAP Skills for Africa has grown and matured over its short lifespan, bringing growing numbers of graduates, partners and customers together to help promote economic growth and develop substantive ICT skills that change lives in a sustainable manner since 2013. In January this year, the initiative was awarded the prestigious Hasso Founders' Award, the highest employee recognition at SAP awarded annually by the CEO to an individual or a team from around the globe. Karima Sghiri, Director of the Social Actions and Youth Empowerment Programme at OCP Foundation, one of the Francophone Africa partners to the programme, says a key success factor to this programme, is the partnership between the public and private sector. "The OCP Foundation is pleased to partner with SAP, government and other private sector organisations, to enable these graduates to become active contributors to our economy," says Sghiri. Another key partner is Cevital, an SAP customer in Algeria, which understands technology is a radical game-changer that it facilitates the digital transformation process. Noura Meddahi, Cevital Director Information Systems, says the company understands future business leaders need the training and qualifications to pursue careers in the ICT fields. "This initiative supports disadvantaged students to develop a future focus and because it delivers highly skilled, business-ready graduates, it enables our organisation to offer our customers the highest levels of skilled services," adds Meddahi. Skills for Africa is borne out of the realisation by 2040, Africa will have a working age population of more than 1,1 billion, creating the world's largest and fastest growing talent pool. With a dire shortage of technical skills worldwide, Africa is likely to play a critical role in driving digital transformation around the world, says SAP Africa Managing Director, Francophone Africa, Frederic Alran. "We are proud to work with our partners and customers to play our part in helping address this challenge," he says. Alran says the future workforce requires keen technical knowledge and practical experience in real-world business scenarios yet in most of Africa, digital training is not accessible to all and often lacks the key skills that the employment market requires. Initiatives such as SAP Skills for Africa help close the gap between training and workforce requirements by involving partners and customers to ensure graduates walk out of training with instantly implementable skills and experience, the executive adds. "Our graduates make an immediate positive impact in the companies where they are placed upon completing their training." Alran says for Africa's gross domestic product to grow to the projected $2.6-trillion by 2020, it is imperative African youth have opportunities to develop key skills to realise the continent's economic potential. He views Skills for Africa as a job-creation vehicle that fully leverages the power of SAP's existing ecosystem, creating a tangible and direct impact on people's lives. SAP aims to create 10 000 jobs for young graduates across Africa by 2020. "We look forward to seeing this new class graduate and join our partners and customers to help drive Africa's economic prosperity in the years to come," concludes Alran. - CAJ News
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