Preparing our youth for the uncertain future requires new thinking around issues of education and skills development, this according to Cathy Smith, MD for SAP Africa who was speaking at this year’s WEF Africa taking place from 4 to 6 September in Cape Town.
The World Economic Forum believes nearly two-thirds of children entering school today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist.
“In Africa, where the youth population – those aged between 15 and 24 – is expected to more than double to 450 million by 2055, there is an urgent need to radically rethink how we prepare our youth to be active participants in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” says Smith.
SAP is committed to supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals and has introduced a range of skills development initiatives to ensure young people can thrive in the digital economy. In 2015, SAP launched Africa Code Week, an ambitious, continent-wide digital skills development initiative that has engaged more than four million youth across 37 African countries. The 2019 Africa Code Week was officially launched on September 3rd with the aim to introduce an additional 1.5 million African youth to digital skills this year.
Sunil Geness, Director of Government Affairs and CSR Lead at SAP Africa, says a large part of Africa Code Week’s success is tied to its close partnerships in the public and private. “We currently have more than 130 public, private and non-profit partners who have joined forces to build local trainer capacity through dedicated Train-the-Trainer sessions, accelerate female participation in the digital economy and transform local curricula to ensure our youth are skilled and prepared for active participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
SAP’s Skills for Africa training and job creation programme is another way SAP works with its partners to help young unemployed and underemployed Africans find employment. The 2-3 month-long training program combines the latest SAP training and certification with innovation and soft skills, providing access to trained talent for customers and partners.
“By working closely with our customers and academic partners, we create a four-way win,” says Geness. “Youth gain opportunities for employment, customers and partners find brilliant talent, SAP strengthens its ecosystem, and participating countries benefit in their fight against youth unemployment. We have also extended our support to entrepreneurs, innovators and startups through our SAP Next-Gen programme.”
Extending startup support, connecting purpose-driven leaders
SAP Next-Gen is a global initiative that provides an innovation platform for companies, partners and universities to connect and innovate with purpose. It is extending its support of the South entrepreneurial ecosystem today with the release of the Cape Town edition of the Startup Guide, a global entrepreneurial handbook series designed to connect the local startup community. SAP Next-Gen partnered with Startup Guide in 2018 to connect startups with accelerator programmes, matchmaking services and corporate innovation initiatives. The Startup Guide was launched to the local startup community at Workshop 17 in the V&A Waterfront on Wednesday evening.
Kwena Mabotja, Africa Regional Director at SAP Next-Gen says: “The partnership between SAP Next-Gen and Startup Guide inspires entrepreneurial communities around the world to innovate with purpose. We share a joint mission to foster collaboration and provide access to resources for businesses that leverage technology for profit and purpose.”
This also marks the establishment of the Purpose Place by SAP, perfectly located at the trendy Inner City Ideas Cartel in Green Point. The Purpose Place by SAP supported the path towards a better world by 2030,” magnifying SAP’s purpose narrative among a community of “SDG First” leaders in the region which brought together thought leaders and influencers from industry, government, academia, the startup ecosystem, NGOs, impact investors and the media for important discussions on how to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “The Purpose Place by SAP is the home of the SDGs, where leaders and innovators can gather for purpose-driven conversations about our current and future challenges.”
“Africa is at a tipping point: on the one side, we have the immense challenges of a large and growing population facing the looming prospects of digital disruption, climate change and a rapidly changing global economy. On the other side, we have the immense opportunity to use digital technologies and our wealth of talent to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and create a more prosperous and equitable world for all,” adds Smith. “How we leverage exponential technologies and digital skills will largely determine Africa’s future. The debates and resolutions from WEF Africa come at a critical time for our Continent.”