When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, many businesses were caught unware and had to adjust to fit in the new normal. Unfortunately, some of them had to close down, both big and small enterprises. But for the ones that remained operation, it was time to look for different ways of survival, including changing their business models or pivoting to offer new products and services.
One significant change that has happened in the course of the pandemic is the embracing of digital technologies to carry out different operations. From online learning to virtual meetings and online collaboration, many people and organizations have had to adjust to this new reality. In addition, the post-pandemic world poses a larger demand for the skills needed to navigate, whether on computers or mobile devices.
In a bid to prepare Kenyan small businesses to adapt to the new normal, Microsoft recently unveiled a digital skills training initiative with Stanbic Kenya Foundation and the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Development & its agencies. Through the Future Ni Digital initiative – a digital literacy, entrepreneurship, and career skills program- over 50,000 owners of Micro Small Enterprises (MSEs) across Kenya will be equipped with the relevant digital skills by the end of this year.
According to the World Economic Forum, ‘Technology use, monitoring and control’ will be one of the ten most in-demand skills by 2025. Some basic skills incorporated in the Future Ni Digital programme include the ability to use computers, to use computer programs such as word processors, to navigate on the internet and to use communication tools such as social media and email. In addition, more advanced skills such as coding, cloud computing and data analytics can be an added advantage in career and business.
“Initiatives such as Future Ni Digital are preparing individuals and businesses for a more digitally connected world, enabling them to take advantage of the tools that can enable them to thrive,” says Kendi Ntwiga, Kenya Country Manager, Microsoft.
The training takes a blended approach, combining in-person training sessions at government centres, with an online learning platform, FutureNiDigital.org) (https://www.futurenidigital.org/).
“This year, the program seeks to equip 50,000 learners with digital skills; train 1,000 government trainers; and have 2,000 placed in employment,” explains Kanyuga. “The long-term goal is to build the capacity of government centres to enable them to continue running digital skilling training for years to come.”
As part of the partnership, Microsoft has provided a grant to the implementation partner, the Africa Centre for Women in ICT, to enable them to facilitate the training of government trainers. The organization has also deployed an online learning platform, FutureNiDigital.org, in collaboration with Stanbic Bank Foundation and are working on a job platform as well.
“At Microsoft, our goal is to empower people and organizations to do more. We developed this initiative to enable individuals and businesses to use technology to reach their career and business goals,” adds Kendi.
“The government has embraced digital transformation as key pillar for Economic growth. Let us come together as stakeholders in different areas to add value, knowledge and reach in promoting digital literacy and skilling programs,” Kendi concludes.
Digital skills have proven to be very vital and an important part of growth for businesses and individuals in this era. Almost everything we do revolves around the digital environment. From online shopping, learning, meetings, working and communication, one can not afford to be left behind. Possessing digital skills will ensure that you and your business stay ahead of the curve when it comes to navigating the current and future economic environment.