Technology

REVIEW: SAP Young Professionals Program evolves to meet Africa’s digital skills demands

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As survivors of a global crisis, bright young professionals are entering the labour market equipped with new skills, fresh perspective, and boundless energy.

This is all thanks to a highly successful graduate program driven by SAP and supported by a thriving ecosystem of public and private sector partners and customers.

According to Cathy Smith, Managing Director at SAP Africa, while many educational programs struggled with the complex demands of distance learning during the pandemic, the SAP Young Professionals Program went from strength to strength.

“By opening our online classrooms to tap into new markets, we were able to attract talented, qualified university graduates who may not have been able to attend classes in-person otherwise. As a result, our customers and partners across Africa have access to a wider pool of qualified SAP consultants who can help drive digital transformation using SAP’s latest innovations.”

Skills investment to support continent’s digital ambitions

SAP is investing to increase the number of trained and certified SAP consultants in the SAP ecosystem to support customers with digital transformation.

IDC estimates new employment in the ecosystem will rise to 1.6 million employees by 2024, up from 1 million in 2020. Of the 600,000 new employees added to the SAP ecosystem, 280,000 will be net-new consultant roles, making SAP skills a valuable commodity in the job market.

In June, the SAP Young Professionals program achieved a new milestone with the graduation of its first-ever class in Portuguese-speaking Africa, comprising Angola and Mozambique.

Constantin Zelenty, deputy head of Mission at the German Embassy in Angola, joined SAP customers, partners, and executives in celebrating the milestone with a virtual graduation ceremony. “In order for Angolan companies to grow and succeed in our modern age, they need to harness the transformative power of digital technologies along with rightly skilled talent,” he said. “We hope this may be the first of many groups of graduates who can apply their expertise in service of Angola’s ambitions for the modern digital economy.”

Leading enterprises, graduates laud program’s success

For customers like Dangote Group, the largest conglomerate in West Africa and one of the largest on the African continent, working with SAP Young Professionals is a win-win opportunity for talent development.

“At Dangote Group, we always encourage young, talented professionals to kick-start their careers. We are happy to partner with the SAP Young Professionals program by continuing our commitment to hire fresh program graduates,” says Devakumar Edwin, Group Executive Director, Dangote Group. “This programme enabled us in recruiting bright young minds who are trained in the latest SAP technologies and soft skills like design thinking to be readily deployed in our SAP Centre of Expertise.“

Having earned the sought-after professional designation of SAP associate consultant, graduates of the SAP Young Professionals program are skilled on the most recent versions of SAP software and career-ready for placement with SAP partners and customers in their region. The program boasts a job placement rate of 95% globally. To date, more than 3,220 people have graduated from the program since its inception in late 2012. The program is free of cost for its selected learners.

One such graduate is Rebecca Akello from Uganda, who until she became part of a recent SAP Young Professionals Program cohort was underemployed with few prospects for advancement in a volatile job market. The motivated young self-starter had begun to study toward an MBA in the hopes of securing a better job, and was unfamiliar with SAP when she first saw an advertisement for the SAP Young Professionals Program.

“When I came across the program advert on LinkedIn, I thought to myself, ‘Okay this is going to be like any other internship or apprenticeship done by big corps for public relations.’”

However, once Akello had successfully completed the program, she underscored the intrinsic value of the SAP certifications and professional soft skills that she earned through the program.

“We have been energised to strive towards our dreams relentlessly, and today we have been honoured with our SAP certifications,” she said at a recent virtual graduation ceremony. “Our networks have also grown beyond local and regional borders.”

Track record of skills success

The SAP Young Professionals program has already trained more than 1,550 young people in Africa as part of SAP Skills for Africa, an SAP umbrella initiative focused on skills development and job creation. Training multi-country cohorts in a virtual setting, a necessity of the pandemic, has accelerated the expansion of the program’s footprint on the continent.

In 2021 alone, talents from Senegal, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Egypt, Angola, and Mozambique have graduated from the program. The latest group of graduates, hailing from Nigeria, celebrated a virtual graduation ceremony on September 23rd.

Since mid-2019, SAP has been working with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH with the aim to jointly create 450 jobs for highly qualified personnel in the IT sector in 10 African countries over the course of three years.

The cooperation project is part of the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation and the develoPPP program that GIZ implements on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It is executed by the SAP Training and Development Institute as part of the established SAP Young Professionals program.

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