Since the past decade, the Nigerian tech ecosystem has grown in leaps and bounds. But finding talent remains a major headache for many startups in the country. For instance, there are about 114,536 developers in Nigeria, a country with 200 million people and an unemployment rate of over 33%.
Ironically, despite how low this figure is, some of the available tech talents are also leaving Nigeria in search of better opportunities, raising fresh concerns about the talent gap in the ecosystem.
The message is clear: getting more people into tech is non-negotiable. This is the founding mission of Skillup Africa, a startup that trains exceptionally talented individuals in globally viable tech skills and helps them kickstart their journey into tech.
Why Skillup Africa?
In an interview with Technext, CEO, Temitayo Adegoke explained that Skillup Africa started as a response to a problem of talent recruitment he faced after setting up his software development company.
Perturbed by the difficulty in finding talent to work with, he thought of a solution: help people get digital skills that can plug them into opportunities in the tech space.
So, Adegoke put up a Facebook post, asking persons interested in tech to contact him. Those selected were housed in his apartment for about six months and were trained in different digital skills. All of these, Adegoke says, were completely free.
And after the training, most of the participants were absorbed into his company. That was the point he knew he had to extend the solution to other companies in the Nigerian tech ecosystem where the talent gap remains a worry.
Then, in 2020, Adegoke officially set up Skillup Africa.
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Grooming tech talent
According to Adegoke, the training — which started off as corporate social responsibility (CSR) intervention — was remodelled into the Digital Skills Empowerment Program (DSEP), a paid 6-month fully intensive residential training program where participants are made job-ready with both tech skills and real skills.
He said the DSEP’s core areas include frontend and backend development, data analytics and mobile apps development, and it costs around N600,000 for the training alone, and N1.3 million for the full package which includes feeding, accommodation and other services.
Speaking on the selection process, he explained that there is a five-stage screening system: the initial application, statement of purpose, online exams, a Bootcamp and the interview.
“For the present cohort [which is the fourth], we had over 8,463 applications and only 80 were eventually selected into the program. Our screening process helps us get the best talents,” he said.
So far, the training has produced hundreds of tech talents from three cohorts who have secured roles in different startups. The success stories, Adegoke said, are what have kept the project going.
He adds that Skillup Africa also has an online school for short non-coding courses like product management, UI/UX, etc., and a Stepup programme for people in the intermediate phase interested in moving to a senior level.
Not a coding school
Adegoke explained that the startup initially sought to solve the talent gap problem, but along the way, the need to empower participants with soft skills became necessary.
According to him, there is a six-month curriculum for soft skills as part of the DSEP. While weekdays are meant for the tech training, Saturdays are for imparting soft skills to the participants.
“We are just not trying to get people to learn how to code. No, we are not a coding school. We are an institution that is trying to create totally transformed individuals. So we focus on soft skills as much as hard skills to help them become persons of impact,” he said.
Two years after its creation, Skillup Africa’s major appeal, the CEO stated, is that it not only trains people but provides them with mentorship and support in form of a strong and viable alumni network.
Read also: How Kelvin Alaneme’s CareerEdu has helped 1,000 young Nigerians get UK visas for study and work.
What is the future for Skillup Africa?
Adegoke says Skillup Africa is just starting and hopes to spread its tentacles all over Africa in the coming years.
“We see a future where young people from all parts of Africa can benefit directly from what we do, and we can export them to the rest of the world. So that’s the future for us and we just can’t wait,” he said.
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