September 28, 2021

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Ingressive for Good and Coursera prepare African youth for tech careers

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Partnership provides scholarships for 5,000 African youth, helps more than 100 land careers in tech

When Ingressive for Good (I4G), a tech nonprofit, began its mission to create and increase the earning power of tech talent in Africa, it was clear about the obstacles. Young people in Africa make up a significant portion of the unemployed population. Internet access across the continent can be inconsistent, and many young people don’t have access to the tools and systems they need to prepare for tech careers. Starting a non-profit under normal circumstances is difficult enough, but I4G launched in summer 2020, during the peak of COVID-19. 

I4G’s mission to train more than 1 million youths and connect 5,000 with jobs was more critical than ever. As companies with more traditional, in-person businesses started closing, increasing unemployment. I4G knew it could make a major impact by focusing on training youths for jobs in tech with higher pay rates, better job security, the ability to freelance, and remote work opportunities.

“Helping young people channel their passion for tech into the right skills isn’t just about connecting one person with one opportunity at a time, it’s about investing in leaders who will shape Africa for generations,” says Sean Burrowes, Co-Founder of Ingressive for Good. “We needed a partner who could help us with the monumental task of training thousands of people at a time. Coursera offered the right depth of courses and a great enthusiasm for our mission.”

 A priceless opportunity at no cost

I4G and Coursera partnered to provide scholarships for 5,000 unemployed or displaced workers. To attract young people to the Coursera training, I4G emphasized the value the program could offer, both in terms of building skills for tech jobs and the value of professional certifications they could earn — a certification that usually cost hundreds of dollars was free through the program. I4G tapped into its community connections to publicize the scholarship while also ramping up I4G Circles, an exclusive community of university students across Africa who are passionate about tech and leveraging it to solve problems. Recruiting social and tech influencers, and developing social media campaigns, also spread the word.

Initially, I4G expected to receive around 2,500 applications — it received more than 20,000.

“When our community understood that the scholarship through Coursera was a life-changing opportunity, we were happily overwhelmed by the enthusiasm,” says Blessing Abeng, Director of Communications at Ingressive for Good. “Our outreach success has a lot to do with the relationships we’ve built in a short period, and the power of Coursera as a world-respected program.”

I4G invited applicants only from African nations, aged 18-35, and who had financial need, or wanted to upskill in a current tech job. To offer learners the most impactful courses, I4G sought insights from leaders in tech and collected data related to industry trends. Technical skills in programming, UI/UX design, data science, cybersecurity, and machine learning, as well as backend and front-end development were crucial. Employers also were looking for talent with digital marketing skills. 

“Once we identified the skills that would give our community the best advantage in the job market, we had to map those skills to a curriculum. For an organization of our size facing such a large need, that might have been impossible,” says Burrowes. “Within the comprehensive Coursera course catalog, we could select a curriculum that we knew would benefit thousands of learners.”

Building communities of excited, engaged learners

Learners flocked to popular courses like HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers; Leadership and Emotional Intelligence; Introduction to UI Design; and Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python).

Many learners joined study groups to help keep each other accountable. I4G partnered with Student Build, an exclusive network of Africa’s students and recent grads, to create a peer-to-peer mentoring program centered around Coursera. The mentoring groups helped to localize international examples included in Coursera content, making content relatable to learners, and also provided peer support.

“Imagine a group of 50 people taking the same course, knowing that they’re responsible to a peer mentor who represents where they want to be in their own learning and skills. That can be a more powerful motivator than any test,” says Haneefah Abdurrahman Lekki, Community Manager at Ingressive for Good. “With Coursera, we created a culture of enthusiasm about tech that people can carry into their future careers.”

Peer-to-peer support helped to drive course completions, with more than 1,000 learners completing over 2,400 courses. 

Today’s learners become tomorrow’s dynamic workforce

Helping to place young people in jobs is essential to the I4G mission. According to I4G, more than 100 learners who completed I4G’s program are now working in tech jobs. As I4G tracked people who enrolled in and completed various Coursera courses, the organization compiled a database of learners acquiring specific skill sets, like digital marketing, coding, or website development. I4G can connect these people with its recruiter partners to fill roles for those skill sets.

I4G maintains regular contact with alumni to get updates and feedback about their progress in the workforce. This network can share insights and potential opportunities within the field, deepening the resources I4G can share with others.

Among all the learners who have completed certifications and found work, there are exceptional and powerful personal stories. One learner used his Coursera coursework to land his dream job in digital marketing and product design. An aspiring university student learned to build her own website in only one week and turned her Coursera computer science course into a lifelong passion. A digital marketer parlayed his Coursera training into work for his highest-paying clients to date.

“Coursera helped us push through a profoundly difficult time to give hope and opportunity to thousands of young people in Africa,” says Burrowes. “It’s not just an online learning platform, it’s a pathway to a better, brighter future.”

To learn more about how to transform your workforce with the skills of the future, visit Coursera for Government.

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