Microsoft’s Apprenticeship Program in Africa

An apprenticeship program is a program that trains a person or persons to become skilled in a particular trade. Apprenticeships combine hands-on work with classroom learning to train the apprentice; they are not considered to be full-time employment. As the apprentice is learning, he is also applying the lessons through active practice. To have an apprenticeship program, you must be a business, provide hands-on training, teach lessons, offer compensation, and administer a nationally accredited certificate.

While informal apprenticeship programs are common for small African businesses, formal programs are quite scarce. Microsoft runs an apprenticeship program, one that they have managed to sustain in Africa since 2015 when they launched the Leap Program. The mission of the Leap program is to recruit, develop, and upscale unconventional talent for employment in the technology industry.

The apprenticeship program has overtime gathered learners with a wide range of professional experience. Successful candidates who have graduated are preferred for employment.

Microsoft has different apprenticeship areas where they employ tech experts as apprentices. There is the data analysis cohort in Lagos, the software engineer cohort in Lagos and Nairobi, and the software support engineer cohort in Lagos.

In January 2021, Microsoft announced it was opening a new cohort in Kenya via its Leap apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship program will accept software engineers in Kenya. Apprentices will undergo a sixteen-week modern engineering acceleration apprenticeship program focused on encouraging and cultivating talents in the region. The program will be broken down into 5 weeks technical and non-teaching learning instructor-led classes and lab sections. This will be followed by ten weeks on an engineering project in a Microsoft product team immersion project. Afterwards, there will be a one-week project fair to demonstrate their engineering projects to other participants. During the presentations, hiring managers are present to see the body of work and conduct future interviews that may lead to a recruitment or job offer.

What does this Program mean for Africa?

The importance of the Microsoft Leap program in the African tech space cannot be overstressed. The program has encouraged and harnessed skill development in African youths, empowering them to achieve more than just ideas to taking deliberate actions in developing and showcasing these ideas and skills to institutions and companies that need it.

The program has kept African nations informed on the digital transformations happening in the world and the global tech space, thereby accelerating the transformation of African economies through tech.

For the participants of the Leap apprenticeship program, they get an opportunity to take up employment with partnering companies of the program and attain personal growth when they collaborate with other tech experts.