The world is rapidly transitioning into a full-blown digital era. As such Information Technology (IT) is a necessary tool required to cope with the evolving trends.
In that spirit, the IT Bridge Academy has decided to leave no one behind. The academy has taken the initiative to provide young jobseekers with disabilities in Kenya a fighting chance in the competitive job market.
IT Bridge Academy offers young people with disabilities who have a passion for IT the opportunity to learn and acquire hands-on skills in the IT sector.
Through a rigorous selection process, students qualified to join the 9-month-long training programme begin their journey which progresses into six months of internship at a top technology company where they gain work skills and experience.
They later proceed to a mentorship program managed by CISCO UK which further equips them with confidence and guidance in their job search.
The academy run by Sightsavers and partners aims to have young people with disabilities transition into formal employment at IT and telecommunications firms. This has been possible as the first cohort of graduands from the institution got to work with the largest mobile network provider in East Africa (Safaricom), think tanks, digital and technology start-ups.
Moreover, Sightsavers and partners are aware of the digital gender divide. As such, they are working through the IT programme, to achieve gender parity and a 50/50 ratio in each student cohort.
Sightsavers and Partners
The IT Bridge Academy is run by Sightsavers in partnership with The National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK), Safaricom, and Three Talents, Accenture and CISCO.
Sightsavers in collaboration with their partners are striving to change the model in which companies train and employ persons with disabilities. They have taken the initiative to develop innovative ways to help these young people get employment in the current competitive job market.
The project in Nairobi, Kenya is funded by donor partners: Future makers by Standard Chartered, GIZ’s Global Project on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities and the Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) Programme. E4D is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and NORAD and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Sightsavers County Director Take
The Kenya Times had an opportunity to talk to Sightsavers County Director Moses Chege about IT Bridge Academy during the graduation ceremony of the second cohort of students on Wednesday, May 10, 2023.
Mr. Chege Explained that the academy began in Kenya about three years ago, as a collaboration between Sightsavers and other organizations.
He noted that the idea is to have youth with disability venture into formal employment as they have the potential to deliver if they are provided with the skills and opportunity.
The Sightsavers County Director said they decided to focus on IT because society is fast shifting into a digital era, digital economy and the country’s future is in Information technology. As such the job market for IT has become broad over time, calling for more young people with disabilities to tap into that sector.
While speaking about the selection process, Mr. Chege explained that it is usually very competitive as they receive many qualified youth interested in the course more than their capacity at the academy.
When asked about their selection process, Mr. Chege stated that Attitude, motivation, and interests of applicants are some of the key qualities the selection team considers while picking qualifiers for the programme. He added that they select people with different qualifications and from different backgrounds as well.
Furthermore, Chege emphasized providing opportunities for persons with disabilities to soar higher in their studies and career as a way of championing for inclusivity.
“In the current cohort we have people who are graduates in different areas and diploma holders and today we celebrate all of them because they have all passed. This is a demonstration that when one is offered an opportunity, it is possible for them to succeed.” He stated.
Mr. Chege acknowledged the support of their partners including NITA who are the host for the IT Bridge Academy and urged for expansion of the programme for all youths and in other counties.
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