One of the major drivers of economic growth is human capital. Human capital affects economic growth and can help to develop an economy by expanding the knowledge and skills of its people. Across Africa, young people lack the right skills and capabilities that leading employers are hiring for. While Africa's economy appears to be growing, the conventional universities fail in their capacity to develop young people to meet the human capital demands of the job market.
According to the Future of Work report by Passion Incubator, 80% of business leaders find access to talent one of the major challenges of scaling fast-growing businesses. There is a need for new and different skill sets to meet the emerging digital economy and companies will need to spend more on training graduates to plug this gap.
Bridging Africa’s talent gap with AI
Meet Eyitayo Ogunmola who wants to solve Africa’s talent problem. Ogunmola is CEO of Utiva, a company that is helping people develop skills for the future of work and also helping organizations hire trained talent through a remote learning technology that is powered by AI.
After Ogunmola graduated from university in Nigeria, he struggled to get a job for at least two years. During this time he says he felt worthless and became depressed because he didn’t realise he would be unemployed for that long. He eventually realised that wasn’t the only one in this situation, but was one of millions of people facing a similar challenge. This inspired him to work with universities to help young people develop project management skills. He also contacted a number of businesses to try and understand the skills and competencies they looked for from Nigerian graduates, and began to develop the company’s engagement and value proposition around these skills. This was the birth of Utiva.
Digitally upskilling Nigeria’s talent market
Utiva’s learning platform leverages data to help accelerate the learning experience of users. Its learning model is to use tech to reinforce learning, spot gaps through deep assessments and also help create collaborative learning. The company’s solution is an end-to-end virtual environment that helps users access different digital and technical skills training programs in the form of cohort-based learning models. The platform also provides the opportunity to work on multiple projects which have been co-created with top organizations. Additionally, it measures real-time performance and generates instant feedback for the users based on the projects being worked on, helping them identify key gaps and providing support throughout the learning journey.
Since setting up the company, Ogunmola noticed that digital upskilling is a huge challenge in Nigeria, and this is mostly down to the lack of power supply, access to basic internet and educational tools for learning available to the average Nigerian. What Utiva is focusing on now is helping the youth to upskill, while driving scale at a much lower rate. The company has successfully done this to a certain level, however, they would like to make learning more accessible to individuals from lower income backgrounds.
The growth of ed-tech during the COVID-19 pandemic
The pandemic provided Utiva with a silver lining and helped to accelerate the company’s growth. It created a major reality for the education industry that physical training might not return anytime soon - digital learning will become the new norm. It also helped the company to identify a new distribution model through a product called ‘The Nucleus’, which enabled them to increase their internal capacity by almost 40% during COVID-19, completing three times their regular training through their instructor-led virtual classes.
The Utiva team was quite proactive and adaptable enough to leverage the opportunity to scale its learning platform to more people while creating new learning programs that reached about 4000 people within a short while. They also increased student enrolment in their paid programs to 520 per monthly cohort and achieved a transition rate above 75%.
So far, the company has created 9 major learning programs, onboarded over 100 employers and hiring partners, and trained over 4500 students across over 30 different cities.
Utiva looks set to build the largest ecosystem of tech professionals in Nigeria, in Product Design, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Design, and Growth Hacking, amongst others. The company recently signed a contract with Nigeria’s Federal Government to enable them to access a new market of recent graduates, a market of about 100,000 young people per year. With this new partnership, Utiva is training 5,000 young people on technological skills.
Connect with Eyitayo Ogunmola on LinkedIn here.